Happening Today

SJC, Gaming Commission, and more

Supreme Judicial Court hears oral arguments for seven cases, John Adams Courthouse, Courtroom One, Pemberton Square, Boston, 9 a.m.

Gaming Commission holds a public hearing to gather comments on proposed amendments to gaming regulations, then the commission meets again to begin the process of looking for a new executive director, 101 Federal St., 11th Floor, Boston, 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively.

MassDevelopment Board meets, with Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy chairing, 99 High St., 11th Floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey discuss tensions with Iran and his 2020 re-election campaign on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ followed later by U.S. Rep. Bill Keating who also talks about tensions with Iran, WGBH-FM 89.7, 11 a.m. and 1:20 p.m., respectively.

Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station hold rally event dubbed ‘The People’s DEP: Toxic Cleanup Standout,’ 50 Bridge St., North Weymouth, 2 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

The real estate transfer tax: Is it time?

From Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine: “Lawmakers and housing advocates are starting to coalesce behind a new proposal that would allow municipalities the local option to assess a tax of up to 2 percent on real estate transactions above the statewide median sales price and up to 6 percent on more speculative property sales.”

SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) has more on the suddenly trendy transfer tax idea. The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports how Mayor Marty Walsh’s ambitious new housing program rests on passage of the still-uncertain real estate tax. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Tim Logan looks at how Walsh plans to spend $500 million on his proposed new housing programs, assuming he ever gets transfer-tax revenues to pay for them. Finally, the Globe’s Joan Vennochi takes a look at all of Walsh’s recent big-ticket proposals – and concludes he’s hearing the footsteps of history behind him. 


Baker’s TCI plan takes another New England hit

Speaking of new taxes and/or fees, add Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont to the regional list of those opposing (or at least having serious reservations about) a proposed Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) tax/fee on gasoline. The Herald’s Joe Dwinell has the details on Lamont’s non-embrace of the TCI idea supported by Gov. Charlie Baker and openly opposed by New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.

Meanwhile, SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) reports that transportation advocates say that expansion of the number toll roadways in Massachusetts should be part of any transportation-revenue solution.

Boston Herald

Employers to lawmakers: Can we have a tax break too?

One more tax-related item: The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that major employers – including BJ’s Wholesale, TJX, State Street and Eaton Vance, among others – have written lawmakers asking if they can get the same corporate tax breaks that mutual fund companies and manufacturers now get. Yes, we’re talking about the wonky-sounding tax measure that every journalist deep-down dreads trying to explain: “The single-sales factor apportionment.”

We didn’t know other states have switched to the “single-sales factor” system, so this request may have long-term legs. We’ll see.

Boston Globe

The Big Squeeze

The NYT’s Astead Herndon joined U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail in Iowa and traces her recent polling malaise to her efforts to appeal simultaneously to both the hard-core left-wing and the moderate center of the Democratic Party – and how the same squeezed-in-the-middle strategy has already claimed the candidacies of several other would-be nominees. 

Meanwhile, from the Wall Street Journal (pay wall): “Elizabeth Warren’s base is getting anxious.” They’re apparently anxious about her not connecting with moderate Dems.


Weld says he encouraged Chafee to run for president as a Libertarian

So anti-Trump folks, far and wide, left and right, can now blame Bill Weld if former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee runs for president on the Libertarian ticket and siphons away critical anti-Trump votes in a general election. Weld, the former Massachusetts governor now running for president as an anti-Trump Republican, says yes indeed he urged Chafee to run as a Libertarian.


Judge upholds one-vote victory in Salem council race

It’s over. After nine days of testimony, a Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of the city of Salem and affirmed the one-vote win in November’s election for new Ward 6 City Councilor Megan Riccardi. Dustin Luca at the Salem News reports a key finding from the judge was that the city did not infringe upon the voting rights of a Spanish-speaking resident.  

Salem News

Jeb Bush’s firm invests in Waltham weapons-detection startup

This is interesting, from both a business and political standpoint. The BBJ’s Lucia Maffei reports that a firm led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, son and brother of two U.S. presidents, has invested in Waltham-based Evolv Technology, maker of sensors and software aimed at detecting weapons on people. Among the other Evolv investors: Bill Gates, who’s a returning investor.


Babson staffer suspended after suggesting ‘cultural’ sites that Iran could bomb

The first tip off that it was a joke gone horribly awry was the listing of the Mall of America and the Kardashian residence as ‘cultural heritage’ sites. But no matter. Rick Sobey and Alexi Iafrato at the Herald report on the suspension of, and apology by, a Babson College staff member who made a bad social-media joke about what U.S. cultural sites Iran might attack if the U.S. bombed Iranian cultural sites, an actual threat made by our own president who hasn’t yet, it should be noted, apologized for his own bad non-joke. 

Btw, from the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey slam Trump’s threats on Iranian cultural sites.” 

Boston Herald

Cities and towns taking lead on blocking natural gas growth

A dozen Bay State communities have taken steps to ban new natural gas hookups and 15 more are mulling similar moves, spurred on by environmental groups who were unable to stop large-scale pipeline projects, Christian Wade reports at the Gloucester Times. The trend started on the West Coast and could pick up even more steam if Attorney General Maura Healey gives her blessing to Brookline’s first-in-the-state effort.

Gloucester Times

Fourth vaping-related death reported in Massachusetts

MassLive’s Patrick Johnson reports that the state public health officials have announced that a fourth resident has died from lung injuries associated with vaping. Meanwhile, on another vaping front, from the AP at WBUR: “Judge bans online retailers from selling flavored vapes in Mass. as lawsuit continues.”

State estimates $350M needed to fix crumbling home foundations

This makes us more than a little nervous. One of our home foundations looks pretty damn brittle these days. From Jim Kinney at MassLive: “It could cost $350 million to fully restore crumbling foundations of Massachusetts homes built with pyrrhotite-contaminated concrete. A state task force estimates that about 2,000 central and Western Massachusetts homes were built with the material.”


Longtime political strategist buys Boston PR firm

SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) and the BBJ’s Gintautas Dumcius report that veteran political strategist Daniel Cence has bought Solomon McCown & Company, one of the largest public relations firms in the state, and will rename the firm Solomon McCown & Cence.

Metro Boston, the free subway paper, RIP

It was once the bane of the Boston Herald, which memorably launched a weeks-long journalistic jihad against Metro Boston when the Globe briefly invested in the freebie subway tab back in 2005. It took another 15 years for Metro Boston to finally die, and it was the Internet that killed it. The BBJ’s Don Seiffert and the Globe’s Jon Chesto have more on the paper’s announced closure yesterday.

The Springfield truce: How long will it last?

Western Massachusetts Politics & Insight’s Matt Szafranski reports on the rather cordial atmosphere at Monday’s swearing-in of Springfield Mayor For Life Domenic Sarno. But he detects an undercurrent of tension between Sarno and his opponents and wonders how long the re-election honeymoon can last.


Give ‘em a Mulligan and they’ll just want more

Speaking of Springfield, there seems to be financial score-card trouble at its two public courses. From Jeanette DeForge at MassLive: “The former golf pro at two city-owned courses and a father-and-son team of luxury home builders are scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday to answer to charges accusing them of a long-running scam that involved skimming hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash revenue from the courses.”


Rookie Braintree councilor says history-making vote was made in error

Cut him some slack. He’s new at this. Braintree Town Council member Steven Sciascia says a vote he cast to make Shannon Hume the community’s first-ever female council president was cast in error, Fred Hanson reports at the Patriot Ledger. Sciascia says he misunderstood the process unfolding ahead of his first-ever vote on the council, but officials say it is now too late for the decision to be changed. 

Patriot Ledger

Councilors explain why they vote against the state paying its bills

The world has been waiting to know and now SHNS’s Chris Lisinski has an answer as to why two members of the Governor’s Council have regularly voted against routine warrants allowing the state to pay bills. Answer (basically): Because they don’t know what they’re voting on. Lisinski has details on the apparent/alleged non-details provided to councilors.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Life Sciences Center CEO departing for local startup

Travis McCready, the head of the quasi-public and influential Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, is leaving, apparently to join a local startup. The BBJ’s Allison DeAngelis and SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) have more on McCready’s departure and the appointment of Timothy McGourthy, a deputy secretary within the Baker administration, as acting chief.

‘How could my wife have Alzheimers? She was only 56’

Both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald have sad and poignant stories about spouses losing spouses to either Alzheimers or dementia. Long-time Globe writer Tom Keane describes his shock and disbelief after learning about – and then dealing with – his wife’s Alzheimers, first diagnosed when she was only 56. 

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Jessica Heslam writes of former Herald political cartoonist Jerry Holbert’s battle with a rare form of dementia. He’s only 61, and his wife, Cheryl, frankly needs all the help she can get. They’re both very sad – and moving – stories.

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


Boston schools won’t share info with ICE, superintendent vows – Boston Herald

Board to decide whether Southie has enough packies – Universal Hub


Keenan: Salem State labs could alleviate nursing crisis – Salem News

Dennis bans herbicide on town property – Cape Cod Times

Trahan, officials urge public to support Spinners – Lowell Sun


Mnuchin seeks delay of proposed disclosure of Secret Service spending on presidential travel until after election – Washington Post

Democrats attack Bloomberg for running imperial campaign – Politico

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