Happening Today

Public safety committee, impeachment rally, and more

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Mary Walsh and others attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of Community Servings’ $25 million kitchen and three-story expansion project, Community Servings, 179 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, 10 a.m.

Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security holds a hearing on 25 bills, including legislation that would require seat belts on school buses, permitting the manufacture and sale of slingshots, and penalties for false distress calls, Room A-1, 10 a.m.

Cannabis Policy Committee holds a hearing on several bills, mostly related to medical marijuana and research, Room A-2, 11 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker and Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center President and CEO Stan McLaren tour the center’s facility and highlight the Baker-Polito Administration’s proposed health care legislation, Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center, 632 Blue Hill Avenue, Dorchester, 11:30 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Veterans’ Services Francisco Ureña, Fall River Acting Mayor Cliff Ponte, Fall River Mayor-Elect Paul Coogan and Sen. Michael Rodrigues make an announcement about the Fall River Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall, Fall River City Office – Atrium, 1 Government Center, Fall River, 2 p.m.

— Common Cause, Move On, March for Truth, Progressive Mass, Indivisible MA and other groups will hold a rally for impeachment on Boston Common, with major political leaders expected to attend, Boston Common, 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

Lawmakers call for probe of sex offenders getting coveted state licenses

Since she broke the original story, we’ll let the Globe’s Andrea Estes swing away at this one: “A legislative oversight committee on Monday urged the Baker administration to launch an ‘immediate and thorough investigation into the agency that licenses more than 400,000 professionals and tradespeople across the state. The request comes a day after the Boston Globe revealed that the state Division of Professional Licensure has issued licenses to people with serious criminal records, including dozens of sex offenders.”

Boston Globe

Testy times: MBTA board pushes ahead with income-based fares over Pollack’s objections

There were apparently some “testy” moments during discussion of this idea yesterday. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Rejecting concerns raised by state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, members of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday insisted on moving faster to embrace lower fares for low-income riders. … The back-and-forth was the most recent example of the board’s growing independence of the Baker administration.”

In other MBTA/transportation news, from the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter: “MBTA vows to cut the wait for Red, Orange Line trains in half. But skeptics aren’t convinced.” And from SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall): “Consultants plan to study managed lanes, commuter relief ideas.”


Legalizing prostitution: Pressley’s for it, but not all women agree

The Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert has a good piece this morning on the push by some – including U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley – to decriminalize prostitution in the U.S. But the idea is sharply dividing feminists and women’s advocates.

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld writes that Pressley’s sweeping prison reform package in general is a gift from political heaven for Republicans: “Sometimes you’ve got to wonder if Democrats are deliberately trying to get Donald Trump re-elected.” A Herald editorial also chimes in on Pressley’s “People’s Justice Guarantee.”

State considers closing MCI-Framingham prison by 2024

From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Massachusetts correctional officials are taking preliminary steps to close MCI-Framingham and move its female inmates elsewhere, to avoid what state officials call the ‘prohibitive’ cost of renovating the poorly maintained prison.”


Prohibition alert: Concord considers town-wide tobacco ban

The town of Concord blazed a trail on banning the sale of plastic water bottles. Now the town is considering an effective town-wide ban on the retail sale of all tobacco products, not just a prohibition on the sale of flavored tobacco, as the state recently mandated. NBC Boston’s Emily Rosenberg has the details.

MassLive’s Tanner Stening reports that smokers are furious that adults are telling fellow adults how to run their lives. Fyi: The proposed ban would allow tobacco sales at “adult only” tobacco stores, but, well, there are no such stores in Concord. And so …

NBC Boston

National poll: Warren falls to third place (though a strong third place)

She’s slipping but also hanging in there. A new national NPR/PBS poll shows Joe Biden leading the Democratic presidential pack, followed closely by Bernie Sanders and then Elizabeth Warren. The good news for Warren (sort of): She’s ahead of that pesky upstart from South Bend.

Btw: Add up the “moderate” percentages vs the “progressive” percentages of the top four candidates (37-39 respectively) and you get an idea how divided Dems are today.


After further review: Patrick pivots on pot

Speaking of the presidential race: He’s seen the light. Former Gov. Deval Patrick told a reporter on the campaign trail that he now supports federal marijuana legalization. He also insists he hasn’t really changed his position, despite being on the record opposing decriminalization and medical marijuana while serving as governor, the Globe reports in its Marijuana Minute column. 

Meanwhile, it appears Patrick will appear on the Michigan primary ballot after all, after his campaign gathered more than the necessary number of signatures after missing a deadline to automatically appear, reports James Pindell at the Globe. But Patrick still has troubles elsewhere. From the Herald’s Rick Sobey: “Deval Patrick has no clear path to the nomination, pollsters and NH voters say.”

Can she do that? Cambridge school board member’s resignation not so cut and dry

Cambridge School Committee member Emily Dexter, who’s been the focus of controversy since she said the “N-word” during a classroom talk on racism, wants to resign just weeks after winning a new three-year term and no one in city government is quite sure about the legal mechanics of the move, Alex Bowers reports at Cambridge Day.

Cambridge Day

Data mining students’ brains (and soon their teeth)

Head bands to test the brain activity of students. Electronic monitoring slippers to keep track of the whereabouts of toddlers. High-tech glasses that monitor the movement of students’ eyes while reading. These are just a few of the new technology gadgets some schools are now deploying – and not everyone is thrilled. The Globe’s James Vaznis has more on our Brave New School World.

And speaking of Brave New School Worlds, from the Globe’s Kay Lazar: “A science tooth fairy proposes screening children’s teeth for hints of future mental health problems.”

Boston Globe

Management 101, Part IV: RMV plans employee hotline to flag problems

Obviously, the standard operating procedure of reporting problems to higher-up managers isn’t working. From SHNS’s Chris Liskinski: “After a scandal this summer stemming from the department’s failure to recognize the dangers in a growing violation backlog, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will launch a hotline for employees to flag a range of issues. RMV employees will be able to submit complaints, questions and concerns by phone and email to the hotline.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Massachusetts casinos continue sluggish performance

Revenues continued to fall in November at Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield, following this past July’s opening of the new Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett, reports Michael Jonas at CommonWealth magazine.


Ex-State Police chief’s vacation and sick-time buyout: $84,000

Needless to say, the vast majority of private sector employees can only dream of such farewell checks. From the Globe’s Matt Rocheleau: “Former State Police head Kerry A. Gilpin has received an $84,000 buyout after stepping down last month, state records released Monday show. The lump sum payment is for vacation time she accrued during her career but never used, as well as 20 percent of her unused accrued sick time, department officials said.”

The U.K. has its own strange electoral quirks

A quick break from all things local politics and public policy: Think our electoral-college system for electing presidents is strange? Check out this piece by the NYT’s Amanda Taub about Britain’s “first past the post” electoral system, which allowed Tory candidates last week to win with an average of 38,265 votes per seat, while Liberal Democrat candidates had to net an average 336,038 votes to win a seat. So next time some European pokes fun of our system, remind them of this. … Now back to all things local. …


Million-dollar move: US Supreme Court denies Falmouth property case

Falmouth officials just breathed a million-dollar sigh of relief. By refusing to take up the case of a waterfront property owner who claimed the town essentially took her land by not letting her build on it, the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out a nearly $1 million award from a lower court, Christine Legere reports at the Cape Cod Times.

Cape Cod Times

Boston’s taxable property values hit an all-time high: $164 billion

This does present some challenges for the city, but they’re mostly pleasant challenges, if managed right, to wit: The Boston Municipal Research bureau has released a new report showing that Boston’s taxable property hit an historic $164 billion last fiscal year, up an astounding 78 percent over the past six years. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) and the Globe’s Milton Valencia have more

UMass Memorial sells pharmacy business to stave off operating loss

This is interesting, considering the institution is now asking lawmakers for extra dough. From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “UMass Memorial Health Care said it is in a precarious position in the year ahead, after reporting its second consecutive year of operating losses. In fiscal 2019, which ended in September, the health system reported a $197.5 million operating gain — thanks entirely to the sale of its stake in a specialty pharmacy business. The sale’s proceeds are going toward capital needs.”

One other headline of note, from MassLive: “UMass Medical School and GE Healthcare establishing manufacturing facility in Worcester.”


Added incentive: State tax credit added to Fall River bid to lure R.I. company

They’ve sweetened the pot. Fall River’s efforts to lure a Rhode Island tech company to the city got a major boost from the state, with the Massachusetts Economic Assistance Coordinating Council approving $200,000 in state tax credits, Peter Jasinski reports at the Herald-News. The city has also dangled a local tax rollback in front of SecZetta, as the company considers its relocation options. 

Herald News

ICE asks judge to toss Rollins’s suit over courthouse arrests

We missed this story from the other day. From the Herald’s Andrew Martinez: “ICE is defending its policy to make arrests in state courthouses, asking a federal judge to toss a suit by District Attorneys Marian Ryan and Rachael Rollins, saying federal common law has never provided immunity from immigration enforcement.”

Boston Herald

Top Stories of 2019: And No. 10 is …

Top Stories of 2019. And No. 10 is … State House News Service has launched a typical end-of-year look at the top stories for the previous calendar year. But this year it’s with a twist: It will reveal the top stories one day at a time, starting yesterday with No. 10: “Everett Casino Opens After Wynn Resorts Pays Fine.” We’ll periodically keep you updated on the list, or, of course, you can just subscribe to the indispensable service to keep track yourself.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

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


Boston real estate tax ‘penalizes’ investors, critics say – Boston Herald

Massive CambridgeSide project is approved, transforming mall into mini neighborhood – Cambridge Day


Greendale Mall buyer plans mixed-use development – Telegram & Gazette

Suspicious fires rattle tiny Berkshire town of Mount Washington – Berkshire Eagle

Former State Police head receives $84,000 buyout – Boston Globe


Centrist Democrats line up to support impeachment – Washington Post

Why wealthier families get a bigger tax credit for their children – New York Times

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