Happening Today

MBTA-DOT meeting, Patrick ‘reunion,’ and more

— Mayor Marty Walsh signs a Home Rule Petition for a transfer fee on real estate sales over $2 million in Boston to support affordable housing, Pao Arts Center, 99 Albany St., Boston, 10 a.m.

— The T’s Fiscal Management Control Board and MassDOT board hold their last joint meeting of the year to discuss the fiscal 2020 operating budget and means-tested fares feasibility study, State Transportation Building, Second Floor Board Room, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael Heffernan attend the 35th Annual Human Resources Division Performance Recognition Awards Ceremony, Gardner Auditorium, 12:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and others gather to announce MassWorks funding for the City of Boston, Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, 6th Floor, 2300 Washington Street, Roxbury​, 4:15 p.m.

— Former Deval Patrick staffers host a ‘DLP Reunion Event’ to fundraise for Patrick’s campaign for president, Central Wharf Co., 160 Milk St., Boston, 5:30 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

Management 101: Scores of sex offenders nab coveted professional licenses from state

A division spokeswoman is saying a “technical glitch” is the problem. But the Globe’s Andrea Estes finds that a technical glitch may not be the problem regarding how scores of sex offenders have managed for years to get state professional licenses, including electrician licenses that allow offenders to go into homes to perform work. And one apparent whistle-blower got canned from her job after alerting officials to the problem, Estes writes.

Boston Globe

Management 101, Part II: DOR ‘falling short’ in protecting personal data of taxpayers, Bump says

In yet another state-government management matter, WCVB reports that Auditor Suzanne Bump, appearing on the station’s ‘On the Record’ show over the weekend, says an audit of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue has revealed that the agency is falling short of its ability to protect personal data. The Globe’s John Hilliard has more on Bump’s charges, including how DOR allegedly has “no security plans in place to respond in case the agency’s data is hacked.”


Management 101, Part III: Are the RMV and MBTA woes tied to culture wars?

Is there a management pattern forming here? In an opinion piece headlined “Mr. Fix-it struggling with culture change,” Michael Widmer writes at CommonWealth magazine that the woes at various state agencies, such as at the T, ultimately come down to the “culture of state government versus the Baker administration and the winner, by a knockout in the fifth round, is state government culture.”

But wait: Beacon Hill Institute executive director David Tuerck says the “cultural problem” actually lies within the Baker administration itself, as evidenced by similar management controversies at both the RMV and T, reports the Herald’s Mary Markos. Meanwhile, a Globe editorial agrees that maybe the administration’s management team, led by Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, is indeed the problem, at least when it comes to the T.

GOP lawmakers seek to block Baker from passing Transportation Climate Initiative

Speaking of transportation and funding issues, the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports that at least two GOP lawmakers are backing legislation that would force Gov. Charlie Baker, a fellow Republican, to seek legislative approval for any Transportation Climate Initiative agreement that could lead to a non-tax tax on motorists.

The Herald’s Howie Carr is pounding away at the TCI issue – and other tax issues dating back decades. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Shirley Leung is blasting away at legislators for short-changing the MBTA in the recently passed supplemental budget. “It’s easy to call this politics as usual,” she writes. “It’s actually more like pettiness as usual.”

Boston Herald

What? A tax cut? Really?

Amid all the talk on Beacon Hill about raising taxes for transportation and other state needs, at least one tax is going down on January 1: The state’s income tax, to 5 percent, the first such mandated decline (when the economy is humming along nicely, thank you) in years, as CommonWealth magazine’s Sarah Betancourt reports.


Is Warren’s solution to her two-flank problem a unity ticket with Bernie?

The NYT is reporting that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, now slumping in the presidential polls, is ultimately the victim of a “two-flank war” – as she’s squeezed between centrist liberals to her right and progressive liberals to her left. In a separate piece, the NYT is reporting that many nervous progressives are hoping that Warren and Bernie Sanders can somehow make peace and avoid splitting the progressive vote, perhaps even joining together in a “unity ticket.”

But fear not: Warren is bringing in reinforcements: Her husband, Bruce Mann, is starting to play a more public role in her campaign, reports the Globe’s Jess Bidgood. Still, Warren can’t seem to shake one thorny issue out there: Medicare for All, as Danielle Kurtzleben reports at WGBH.

Patrick donor: Don’t give up on him yet. NH voters: By all means, give up

The Herald’s Hillary Chabot reports that Suffolk Construction’s John Fish, described as a “die-hard Deval Patrick backer,” is urging other Democrats to be patient and give the distant second-tier presidential candidate a chance to prove himself. But Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune reports that many New Hampshire voters wish that some of the second-tier presidential candidates would simply drop out of the race, allowing people to focus more on the top-tier candidates in the Granite State.

So why are prison overtime costs soaring as inmate populations decline?

Back to state-government management quandaries: The Globe’s Gal Tziperman Lotan reports on how Massachusetts may have the lowest incarceration rate in the nation, with the inmate population dropping by nearly 20 percent over the past four years, and yet prison-guard overtime pay continues to soar. 

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Rick Sobey and Erin Tiernan report that law enforcement officials are panning U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s ambitious proposal to dramatically reduce the nationwide prison population in general.

Boston Globe

State cracks down on ‘forever chemicals’ found in drinking water

WBUR’s Barbara Moran and the Globe’s David Abel report that the state’s Department of Environmental Protection has announced new restrictions on toxic PFAS chemicals seeping into drinking water supplies across the state. They’re known as “forever chemicals” because they never fully degrade, as Abel writes.

DeLeo’s Save House Incumbents PAC

Writing at CommonWealth magazine, Margaret Monsell bemoans House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s campaign PAC that she says has a record of dishing out donations to loyal House incumbents facing Democratic primary challenges – and she says party leaders can and should do something about it.


Boston’s three busiest rail stations will soon get fare gates

And back to the T, from the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro: “The mad dash to catch a rush-hour commuter train is about to get more complicated for tens of thousands of riders, as the MBTA prepares to install fare gates similar to those in the subways at its three busiest stations in order to improve fare collections.”

Meanwhile, from the Globe’s Andy Rosen: “In Springfield, relief that Chinese rail car plant will survive.” It’s a result of a compromise that could still yet hurt the Chinese maker of the T’s new subway cars.

Baker signs supplemental budget, but vetoes automatic voter registration provision

Gov. Charlie Baker has signed the recently passed supplemental budget bill, bemoaning the “pattern of late appropriation bills” that he says “bodes poorly for the future fiscal health of the Commonwealth,” reports Shira Schoenberg at MassLive.

But the governor also vetoed a provision within the budget bill dealing with the state’s new automatic voter registration law, reports the Globe’s Danny McDonald.The provision was backed by Common Cause and other groups, but opposed by Secretary of State Bill Galvin. McDonald explains.

Dr. John McAuliffe, Battle of Bulge veteran, RIP

Dr. John E. McAuliffe, 96, wanted to join his fellow Massachusetts vets attending this week’s commemoration of the 75th anniversary of World War II’s Battle of the Bulge. But he didn’t make it, passing away just days before his comrades departed Logan International Airport for Europe. Bill Doyle at the Telegram has the sad story.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Bryan Marquard has a piece this morning on yet another veteran who somehow managed to survive the carnage 75 years ago: His father, Donald S. Marquard, a sergeant in the Army Medical Corps who was in the thick of the fighting during the Battle of the Bulge.


Cambridge’s ‘passive’ experiment: Key to solving climate change and affordable housing at same time?

Fighting climate change and the housing crisis may not be mutually exclusive after all. Bruce Gellerman at WBUR reports on the new six-story “Finch Cambridge” residential project that’s using so-called “passive” methods to make the wood structure super-energy efficient while keeping costs down to make units affordable.


Amazon vs. the T? West Quincy property may have multiple suitors

You could say it’s prime real estate. Amazon has kicked the tires on the land beneath an empty Lowe’s store in West Quincy — the same property the MBTA has eyed for a new bus maintenance facility, Mary Whitfill at the Patriot Ledger reports. 

Meanwhile, Marc Larocque of the Enterprise reports that elected officials have been fielding calls about the fleet of Amazon Prime trailers that has popped up on the Brockton Fairgrounds, where the property’s owner says they’re being stored, apparently full of holiday merchandise. 

Patriot Ledger

Help wanted: UMass Memorial seeks legislative surplus boost after $10 million loss

The CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care is calling on the legislature to send some of the budget surplus to the hospital network after it announced it had posted a $10 million operating loss, Brad Petrishen reports at the Telegram. The loss is an improvement from last year, when the system lost $28 million, but CEO Eric Dickson warns the burn rate — driven by Medicaid payment declines — isn’t sustainable. 


Women’s Energy Network Boston Happy Hour

Join the Women’s Energy Network Boston for a holiday celebration to close out 2019 and celebrate!

Women’s Energy Network Boston

Donuts with DA Rachael Rollins

Join us for JALSA’s “Donate what you can” Channukah event– Donuts with the DA– Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins! Anyone can attend for any donation! Date, time and location will be sent upon receipt of donation.

Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action

The History and Collections of the MHS

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led walk through our public rooms. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations.

Massachusetts Historical Society

Medford 2020 – The Inauguration

MEDFORD 2020 is a celebration of community at the Historic Chevalier Theatre in Medford, Massachusetts.

Medford 2020 Inauguration Committee

Civic Practice Symposium: Reimagining Community Futures Through Arts & Philanthropy

How can creative people in place-based communities catalyze economic change, bridge divisions, and foster meaningful connections between people? How can philanthropic efforts be reoriented toward social weaving, toward participatory democracy, and toward the slow push in communities to integrate and reconnect—to build shared interests and shared purpose in heart and mind?

Adam Erickson

State of the City 2020

Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s annual State of the City address will review the City’s progress and lay out his agenda for his next year in office.

Mayor’s Office of the City of Boston

A Political Discussion As We Enter 2020

Author, politician, raconteur, Larry DiCara., former Congressman Michael Harrington and Government Relations Strategist Peter Mazareas will lead an interactive discussion on what is going on with our democracy. Come on January 7 and let us reason together. We’ll try to find common ground and avoid the harsh tones of current political divisiveness.

Harvard Club of the North Shore

Today’s Headlines


Five Takeaways From What Might Have Been The Closest Election In Boston History – WGBH

Boston’s three busiest commuter rail stations will soon get fare gates – Boston Globe


Citing ‘toxic’ culture, unions take ‘no confidence’ vote in BCC President Laura Douglas – Herald-News

For Berkshires legislative delegation, some hits, some misses on bills – Berkshire Eagle

Westport board of selectmen ponders a gender-neutral name change – Standard-Times


Newtown High wins football championship on 7th anniversary of Sandy Hook massacre – CNN

Freshmen Democrats push for Amash as impeachment manager – Washington Post

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