Happening Today

Transportation committee and more

Joint Committee on Transportation holds a hearing on 66 bills concerning commercial driver’s licenses, service planning, paratransit, data privacy, road maintenance and registration, Room A-1, 10 a.m.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets to select topics for future business meetings later in the month, Gaming Commission, 101 Federal St., 12th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

— The Massachusetts Senate and House meet in a formal session, though no roll calls are expected, 11 a.m.

— Falmouth Selectman Susan Moran, a Democrat, holds a campaign kickoff for the vacant Senate seat last held by Vinny deMacedo, New World Tavern, 56 Main St., Plymouth, 5:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker returns to Massachusetts today after spending a few days in Chicago attending a wedding.

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

Looking ahead to 2020: Automatic voter registration, hand-held phone ban, T control board etc.

Happy New Year and welcome back! There are a lot of looking-ahead to 2020 stories out there this morning, with new laws taking effect and proposed laws awaiting legislative action in 2020. William Dowd at Wicked Local notes that automatic voter registration officially starts this year. Sean Philip Cotterat the Herald takes a look at what’s ahead for the T, including the future of the transit agency’s Fiscal Management and Control Board.

SHNS’s Colin Young, Katie Lannan and Chris Lisinski list the top seven items that Beacon Hill lawmakers are expected to tackle in 2020, including legislation dealing with transportation revenue, housing and sports betting. WCVB reports on the state’s new distracted driving bill (i.e. the ban on hand-held cell phones in cars). WBUR’s Callum Borchers reports on the minimum-wage increase this year in Massachusetts. But the Globe’s Matt Stout reports how the Sunday pay for many workers will decline this year.

And, finally, Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that the state is restarting its rebate program for electric-vehicle purchases in 2020.

Just thinking aloud: Is civil war justified if ‘radical socialists’ win power in America?

Here he goes again. From Geoff Spillane at the Cape Cod Times: “Barnstable County Commissioner Ronald Beaty Jr. ended the year the way he began it: posting to social media platforms and generating controversy and outrage. ‘Would a ‘Civil War’ be preferable to allowing radical socialists to take over American society and the United States government?’ he posted to Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday.” And he indicated that, yes, civil war would be preferable.

You may recall Beaty’s prior social-media musings about whether gay politicians are too “self-absorbed and self-centered.”

Cape Cod Times

Super Straw Me: Committee votes to make plastic straws request-only items

From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Massachusetts businesses would be banned from distributing disposable plastic straws unless a customer requests one, under a bill endorsed by Environment Committee on Monday and described as ‘ridiculous’ by a leading small business advocate.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

As Warren tries to pump up the home front …

As her polling and fundraising numbers fall, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered a fiery and even defiant speech before her home-state faithful on New Year’s Eve, touting her progressive agenda during an event at the Old South Meeting House. Paul Singer at WGBH has the details.

Here’s one way to view the senator’s speech on Tuesday, via Politico: “Warren confronts ghost of Howard Dean.” Hmmm. Did anyone else see ghosts on Tuesday night? The Globe’s Matt Stout and James Pindell and the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky make no mention of any. But the NYT does report on an exorcism of sorts: “Elizabeth Warren Isn’t Talking Much About ‘Medicare for All’ Anymore.”


… Patrick tries to pump life into his NH campaign

John DiStaso at WCVB reports that former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a very late entry into the Democratic presidential primary race, is planning to step up his campaigning in New Hampshire in coming days and week, deploying new staff and making more frequent appearances across the state, starting this weekend.

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Howie Carris making predictions for 2020, including how another former Massachusetts governor, Bill Weld, won’t even get 15 percent of the vote in the GOP primary in Massachusetts.


The show must go on: Corey Lewandowski won’t seek NH Senate seat

Speaking of the Granite State, that wailing sound you hear is from regional and national political reporters, now that Corey Lewandowski, a former campaign manager to President Trump, has announced he won’t be turning the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire into a circus in 2020. The Washington Post has the highly disappointing news.

Washington Post

How do you make a problem go away? If you’re the BPD, simply stop releasing the data

The Boston Police Department’s past controversial practice of stopping, searching and recording street observations of mostly African Americans has slipped from the news of late. Maybe it has something to do with the department no longer releasing data on the stops, despite vows of being transparent? The Globe’s Gal Tziperman Lotan has the details on the magically disappearing data.

Boston Globe

Report: Teen arrests drop dramatically after criminal justice reform in Massachusetts

This is interesting. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that juvenile arrests were down by 43 percent last fiscal year in Massachusetts, after the state’s new criminal just reform law went into effect, according to new information from the Juvenile Justice Policy and Data Board. 

In other crime-statistics news, from WBUR: “Homicides, Other Violent Crime Down In Boston In 2019.”


SJC tosses libel suit against UMass newspaper editor over police-blotter items

From Universal Hub: “The Supreme Judicial Court (on Tuesday) dismissed a libel suit against the news editor of the UMass Boston student newspaper because the paper accurately reported accounts by campus police that they were looking for a man for some ‘suspicious’ activity on a shuttle bus – and that means she is covered by a legal principle that protects journalists reporting on ‘official’ statements and actions.”

The Globe’s Joshua Miller has more on the closely watched case that involved a man falsely suspected of being a pervert snapping photos of women on the T.

Universal Hub

Brockton’s Sullivan to celebrate mayoral inaugural in … Randolph

Newly elected Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan will celebrate his inauguration with a gathering at a restaurant in … Randolph? He says the City of Champions simply doesn’t have a facility big and swanky enough for his needs, Marc Larocque reports at the Enterprise. Then again, he could be sending a political signal: Time to fix the city’s deteriorating Shaw Center.


New Bedford police union wants chief out — but it was supposed to be a secret

The New Bedford Police Union has asked Mayor Jon Mitchell to remove Police Chief Joseph C. Cordeiro from his post. But the union says the letter containing the request was never meant to go public and was merely meant to spark a dialogue with the mayor’s office, Curt Brown reports at the Standard-Times.  Well, part of their mission was accomplished: A dialogue, albeit a public one, is now most definitely underway.

Standard Times

The state’s growing population: Out with the old, in with the new

Tanner Stening at MassLive reports that the Massachusetts population increased by about 340,000 over the past decade, or by 5.3 percent to 6.8 million people, according to new U.S. Census data. We assume most/many of the newcomers are immigrants, based on previous reports. But the state is still seeing an awful lot of people packing up and moving elsewhere, a phenomenon happening in other Northeastern states, as SHNS’s Katie Lannan reports (pay wall).


Free bus rides: If Lawrence can do it, why not Boston?

In an editorial, the Globe is urging that Boston experiment with free bus rides to boost ridership on certain lines, similar to a popular experiment in Lawrence (Globe), and pay for it “if not with public dollars, then with a gift from a forward-looking employer or philanthropist.” Great idea. John Henry, any interest? 

Meanwhile, in a Globe op-ed, former state representatives Stephen Kulik and Daniel Bosley spell out all the ways the proposed Transportation and Climate Initiative could benefit rural areas in Massachusetts.

Boston Globe

How many? Nearly 33,000 gas leaks reported in Massachusetts in 2018

Another Merrimack Valley disaster just waiting to happen? From Lisa Kashinsky at the Herald: “Gas companies reported 32,877 gas leaks across Massachusetts in 2018, according to a new report from the Department of Public Utilities, a consequence of an aging system that a leading advocate says remains inherently unsafe.”

Boston Herald

MassDOT reviewing firm’s contracts after fatal crash in Pembroke

From the Globe’s John Ellement: “MassDOT has launched a review of its multi-million dollar contracts with a Rockland-based highway safety company after one of its employees was allegedly driving drunk when he killed a 13-year-old girl in a two-vehicle crash early Sunday in Pembroke while behind the wheel of a company pickup truck, authorities said.” The Herald’s Alexi Cohan has more.

Former Worcester DA candidate accused of witness intimidation

Melissa Hanson at MassLive reports that Blake Rubin, a Worcester defense attorney who ran for Worcester District Attorney last year, and two others have been indicted and accused of witness intimidation, in a case involving gang members plying women with drugs and forcing them into prostitution.


Island mystery: FBI mum on visits to Oak Bluffs fire department

What better than a mystery to help island residents get through a long winter? The FBI has been in and out of the Oak Bluffs fire department several times in recent weeks, but no one is talking about what they’re up to in the HQ, Rich Salzberg and Brian Dowd report at the Martha’s Vineyard Times.  

Martha’s Vineyard Times

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


2020 will tell much about Boston mayoral race – Boston Herald

Boston homicides were down in 2019 – Boston Globe


Pittsfield-bound space chamber company wins $225,000 from National Science Foundation – Berkshire Eagle

Massachusetts population increased by more than 340,000 over past decade, according to U.S. Census data – MassLive


Ranking the Democrats. Who has the best chance of winning the nomination? – The Hill

Thousands flock to weed shops as Illinois’ pot prohibition comes to an end – Chicago Sun-Times

How to Contact MASSterList

Send tips to Matt Murphy: Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising inquiries and job board postings, please contact Dylan Rossiter: Publisher@MASSterList.com or (857) 370-1156. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter.

Subscribe to MASSterList

Start your morning with MASSterList’s chronicle of news and informed analysis about politics, policy, media, and influence in Massachusetts. Plus, get an inside look at Beacon Hill’s hottest new job postings.