Happening Today

Au Pair Families rally, transfer tax, and more

— Registry of Motor Vehicles’ Merit Rating Board meets, followed by a separate meeting of its Preliminary Screening Committee to consider its search for a permanent director, State Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.

— The group Au Pair Families in Massachusetts holds a rally before meeting with lawmakers, after a court ruling on higher wages for au pairs, State House steps, 10 a.m.

Maine’s Land Use Planning Commission is expected to approve a plan to deliver clean power from Hydro Quebec to the Massachusetts and New England grid via the New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project, Black Bear Inn & Conference Center, 4 Godfrey Drive, Orono, Maine, 10 a.m.

— Reps. Dylan Fernandes, Elizabeth Malia and Gerry Connolly join Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards, Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone and others for a press conference to announce a new coalition in support of real estate transfer fee legislation, Nurses Hall, 11 a.m.

Governor’s Council meets, with no judicial nominees pending, Council Chamber, 12 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

Thinking big: Walsh proposes $500M housing program

As the Globe’s Adrian Walker notes, Mayor Marty Walsh last night was definitely thinking big on the issues, and perhaps thinking big about his legacy, regarding housing, transportation and education. Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine reports on Walsh’s proposal to “spend $500 million over the next five years to create more affordable housing and provide rental subsidies for low-income and homeless people.” Isaiah Thompson at WGBH has more on the housing front.

Meanwhile, from the Globe’s Milton Valencia: “Walsh challenges state officials to act on transportation.” And from CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas: “Walsh calls for big boost in school spending/Commits $100 million in anticipation of new state aid.”

Mystic misery: Encore Boston trims human payroll, hires robots, as revenue falls short

The cold streak is costing some jobs. Encore Boston has slashed 70 non-union positions as revenue at the Everett resort casino continues to lag behind pre-opening projections, Bob Ward reports at Boston 25. Among those getting pink slips were floor workers, apprentices and bartenders — some of whom are being replaced by drink-dispensing robots. 

Boston 25 News

Poll: Warren only major Dem not leading Trump

SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) reports on a new Morning Consult poll that shows U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren as the only major Dem candidate for president not beating President Trump in a general election, though she’s clearly within the poll’s margin of error.

Meanwhile, from James Barnett, former chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, at The Hill: “Why Trump should fear Sanders much more than Warren in 2020.” And the Herald’s Howie Carr expresses similar sentiments: “Elizabeth Warren can’t out-Bernie Bernie.”

Make of it all what you will. We still think she’s positioned well in the race. As they say, anything can happen. Btw, this is interesting, via the AP at CBS Boston: “Elizabeth Warren’s new bankruptcy plan may spark a clash with Joe Biden.”

Patrick’s hope-and-feely thing just won’t cut in 2020

In other presidential-race news, David Bernstein at Boston Magazine explains why former Gov. Deval Patrick’s optimistic hope-and-change message from 2006, later adopted by Barack Obama in 2008, just won’t work in today’s more pessimistic, angry and cynical times. Sad to say, but he’s s probably right.

Btw, from the NYT: “Deval Patrick Hopes for an Unlikely Surge, but for Many, ‘It’s Awfully Late,’”

Boston Magazine

‘Galvin’s war with Wall Street’: The pushback

The Globe’s Jon Chesto and SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) report that the Wall Street types in Boston are pushing back hard against Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s new “standard of conduct for broker-dealers” in Massachusetts. The latest battleground, as Chesto notes: A packed State House hearing yesterday.

State government’s #MeToo problem: More than 100 sexual harassment complaints

Shira Schoenberg at MassLive has an excellent package of #MeToo-era stories this morning (here and here) on sexual harassment in state government – and how hard it is to track the extent of the problem and how the cases are resolved. But she did piece together some numbers: “Republican/MassLive compiled a list of 117 complaints made to executive branch state agencies alleging sexual harassment, or in a few cases gender discrimination, from fiscal 2016 through fiscal 2018. A small number of these cases may be duplicates.”

Blast from past: Long-ago ERA battle resumes in Massachusetts

Stefan Geller at the Boston Herald has an interesting story on the political and legal sparring that’s now under way over the Virginia legislature’s expected ratification of the long-ago proposed Equal Rights Amendment, a move that’s prompted a lawsuit by Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota – and now a counter-suit filed here in Massachusetts. This is going to get constitutionally interesting.

Boston Herald

Koch’s latest development plan: Tearing down half of city hall

No, it’s not a sop to the populist masses. It’s Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch’s latest downtown re-development proposal: “Demolition of half of city hall and the construction of a performing arts center and new, 15-story building that would house both city offices and the campus of Quincy College.” Mary Whitfill has more at the Patriot Ledger.

Patriot Ledger

‘Time to play New Orange Line Train Lottery again’

Boston Magazine’s Spencer Buell and SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) report that the MBTA is “ever-so-gingerly” returning the new Orange Line cars to service, after apparently fixing that “uncommon noise” that plagued them for a while. We loved Universal Hub’s headline on the return of the new cars: “Time to play New Orange Line Train Lottery again.”

Filling a void: WGBH to open news bureau at old Telegram & Gazette site in Worcester

In another example of the nonprofit media filling the for-profit media void, Kaitlyn Locke at WGBH reports on her station’s plan to open a news bureau in Worcester as part of its overall regional expansion. The location of the new bureau/studio: 27 Federal St., the former location of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. The expansion is being funded in part by the C. Jean & Myles McDonough Charitable Foundation and the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, according to a statement.

Cyrus Moulton at the Telegram and Noah Bombard at MassLive, which has also stepped up its coverage of Worcester of late, has more on the WGBH move.


Meanwhile, Herald News decamps Fall River — at least for now

This news has a foreboding air to it. The Fall River Herald News has told readers it has sold its landmark building in the city and will move most operations, at least for now, into the offices of its now sister publication, the Standard-Times in New Bedford. Some see the news as evidence that the two publications, which regularly share content and have overlapping coverage areas, will eventually be merged.  

Also on the move: The Salem News, which has been based in Beverly since the mid-1990s, will relocate to smaller digs in Danvers after selling its building, reports Paul Leighton at the paper.

Herald News

Now it’s Worcester looking at fare-free bus service

One more city and it’s a trend. Steven Foskett Jr. at the Telegram reports that the Worcester City Coucil is signaling its support for possible fare-free bus service, following a recent similar experiment in Lawrence. Recall Adam Vaccaro’s Globe story from yesterday: “The wild idea of making MBTA buses free is gaining traction.” Traction indeed.


State payroll watch: The T, DOT, RMV, etc.

Media outlets across the state have gotten their hands on the latest state payroll numbers, and the stories are coming off the assembly line like widgets. A few examples. From the Globe’s Matt Rocheleau: “MBTA spends record-high $96.2 million on overtime in 2019.” From the Herald’s Hillary Chabot: “RMV scandal helped fuel hike in state payroll.” MassLive’s Shira Schoenberg has thrown the entire payroll data base online.

Don’t forget yesteday’s stories by the Herald (dollars and salaries) and CommonWealth (headcounts) on the new payroll data.

Greater council diversity: It’s happening across the state, not just in Boston

The changing ethnic and gender makeup of the Boston City Council has received a lot of attention of late. But the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert reports a wave of diversity is also occurring on local councils in Cambridge, Everett, Newton, Quincy and Waltham, among others.

Just in case: State socks away largest rainy-day fund ever

The credit agencies used to be worried about the slow Beacon Hill pace of replenishing the state’s emergency “rainy day” fund. No longer. SHNS’s Chris Lisinksi reports the fund is now more than $1 billion higher than its previous record balance.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

‘The most Bostonian thing of the decade’: Giving the boot to the 2024 Olympics

Boston Magazine’s Matthew Reed Baker, in his ‘One Last Question’ feature, concludes that Boston’s rejection of the 2024 Olympics was the “most Bostonian thing of the decade.” We couldn’t agree more – and couldn’t be prouder. It was classic Boston: Loud, obnoxious, parochial — and for a righteous cause, too.

Boston Magazine

GOP blasts ‘slap on the wrist’ punishment of Middleborough selectman’s pot donations

The Globe’s Naomi Martin reports that the state’s Republican Party is furious over an agreement that allows a Middleborough selectman (and former state representative candidate) to pay $2,000 to “resolve a slew of campaign finance violations, including inaccurately reporting donations received from a director of a marijuana business seeking approval to open in the town.”

Boston Globe

Oops: Meeting with Moulton could have violated Open Meeting Law

West Newbury selectmen may have violated the state’s Open Meeting Law when they took part in a closed-door confab with U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton before a public town hall event on Monday. A journalist who showed up for a posted public meeting found closed doors and was told by a Moulton aide the event was off-limits to the press, report Jennifer Solis at the Gloucester Times.

Gloucester Times

Getting more serious: Health officials warn of nasty flu season ahead

Christian Wade at the Salem News reports on the major spike in flu cases across Massachusetts this year – four times more cases reported so far this season compared to the same period in 2018-2019. Needless to say, public health officials are getting nervous.

Salem News

Fishermen vs offshore wind companies: It’s all about traffic congestion

From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth: “A group representing New England fishing interests on Tuesday called for special travel lanes through offshore wind farms proposed off the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, putting the fishermen at odds with wind farm developers who want to retain as much space as possible for their turbines.”


They can’t even give it away: Pelham select board seat goes unfilled

A Pelham resident who received the most write-in votes in last Saturday’s town election says she won’t serve on the Select Board, extending a vacancy created in September until the next election in May. Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has more on what the vacancy means for the town of 1,300 residents. 


50th Anniversary Kick-Off Breakfast

In the coming year, we are celebrating our 50th Anniversary, and we want you to be the first to know what we have planned! Come to hear about our groundbreaking projects in the parks and special events for 2020. Join us, along with Parks Commissioner Ryan Woods, for breakfast and the Kick-off of our 50th Anniversary at Suffolk’s Moakley Law Library, 120 Tremont Street, on January 14 at 8:00am.

Friends of the Public Garden

Author Talk and Book Signing with Vincent Brown

Join us at the State Library for an author talk and book signing with Harvard Professor Vincent Brown, author of: Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War

State Library of Massachusetts

Open House #2: Boston Common Master Plan

The Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends of the Public Garden invite you to the second Boston Common Master Plan Open House on Jan.15th between 5:30 & 8pm at the Josiah Quincy School Auditorium, 152 Arlington St., Boston, MA. The public will have the opportunity to provide meaningful feedback, which is incredibly important in shaping the future of the Common.

Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends of the Public Garden

Corporate Citizenship Conference (C3)

The inaugural Corporate Citizenship Conference (C3) invites corporate leaders to engage in authentic dialogues to shift the paradigm in corporate social responsibility.


Today’s Headlines


New plan for former GE site doesn’t impress some neighbors – Boston Globe

Brockton Stop & Shop announces closure – Brockton Enterprise


Natick developing tool to fight climate change – MetroWest Daily News

Ward 6 election trial turns personal – Salem News

‘Not safe:’ New Bedford installs more angled stone to stop panhandling – Standard-Times


Iran fires over a dozen missiles at US bases in Iraq – New York Times

California investor charged with obstructing probe of Trump inaugural donation – Politico

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