Happening Today

Cannabis Commission, State Police reforms, sex-ed bill

— Attorney General Maura Healey gives the opening remarks at her office’s first Human Trafficking Summit, a two-day conference to help address human trafficking in Massachusetts, Four Points by Sheraton, 1125 Boston-Providence Turnpike, Norwood, 9 a.m.

Today’s Stories

Boom and bust: State now faces $900M shortfall, group says

After running an approximate $1 billion surplus last fiscal year, the state now faces a nearly $1 billion shortfall next fiscal year, thanks to an expected slowdown in tax revenues and spending pressures from the state’s new school-funding law and MassHealth program, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) and the Globe’s Matt Stout have the boom-and-bust details.

‘Fresh doubts’: DeLeo doesn’t see a ‘whole lot of support’ for TCI plan

The Herald’s Marky Markos and the Globe’s Matt Stout report that House Speaker Robert DeLeo is casting “fresh doubts” (the Globe’s words, not the speaker’s) on a regional climate pact that theoretically could generate hundreds of millions of dollar for the state.

So if there’s no Transportation and Climate Initiative funds on the horizon, what next for raising revenues to pay for the state’s transportation infrastructure/traffic congestion woes? DeLeo continues to say the House will tackle the transportation-revenue issue soon – and before lawmakers tackle the overall state budget, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall). Meanwhile, from Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth: “Senate leaders ‘getting close’ on transportation bill.”  

Warren: ‘I think you called me a liar on national TV’

That seemingly tense post-debate chat between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders the other night in Iowa? It was tense all right, with Warren reportedly telling Bernie on stage: “‘I think you called me a liar on national TV.” The Globe’s Liz Goodwin and Jess Bidgood and the Washington Post have more on the deteriorating relationship between the two progressive darlings running for president. And, yes, the feuding continued on Wednesday, as the Post reports separately.

Warren’s ‘electability’ problem: It’s about more than just gender

As U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren hammers away at the gender-electability issue now consuming Democrats, the NYT reports that, in dozens of interviews with voters, many Democrats are chiefly worried about how Warren’s “sweeping agenda would sell against President Trump,” i.e. it’s scope and price tag. Warren’s ability to unite the party and voter sexism are also on the list of voters’ concerns, but not at the top of their list, the Times reports.

The Globe’s Joan Vennochi seems to agree: “In the end, the question for voters is not whether ‘a woman’ can win the presidency. It’s whether Warren can beat Trump. After the latest debate, that’s still debatable.” The Globe’s Yvonne Abraham is just depressed about the whole gender-electability debate. And, finally, from David Bernstein at WGBH: “Warren Sticks With What Got Her This Far—But She Needs To Get Further.”


Don’t forget the other two Bay State candidates running for president

Deval Patrick and Bill Weld, WGBH hasn’t forgotten about you. The station has updates on the Bay State’s other two presidential candidates running in New Hampshire: Patrick (Adam Reilly) and Weld (Saraya Wintersmith). Re Patrick: His style of campaigning is impressing some voters. Just not enough voters. Reilly explains. 

Pot entrepreneur’s meeting outbursts get results

File under: ‘Squeaky wheel gets the oil.’ The Globe’s Naomi Martin reports that a frustrated pot-entrepreneur wannabe believes her disruptions of recent Cannabis Control Commission meetings has resulted in success: She’s now poised to get a pot-shop license, after waiting a mere 610 days in limbo for a decision.

Boston Globe

CEO of Smith & Wesson’s parent company ousted for ‘conduct inconsistent’ with policies

This is big news at one of the state’s largest and most prestigious companies. According to a MassLive report, James Debney, president and CEO of Smith & Wesson’s parent company, American Outdoors Brands, has been ousted following a “determination by the Board of Directors that he engaged in conduct inconsistent with a non-financial company policy.” American Outdoors Brands quickly installed new co-presidents and co-CEOs, as the company gets ready to soon split into two.


‘Another one bites the dust’: Pru’s Top of the Hub to close

The Globe’s Jaclyn Reiss and Tim Logan report that the Prudential Tower’s longtime Top of the Hub restaurant is closing this April, with the famed Skywalk Observatory also closing, although only temporarily.

Top of the Hub is just the latest longtime restaurant and/or watering hole to close in Boston, as Universal Hub alludes to in its headline: ‘Another one bites the dust.’

Boston Globe

Meanwhile, Bose closing all brick-and-mortar retail stores

One more business item of note: The BBJ’s Catherine Carlock reports that Framingham’s Bose Corp. is planning to shutter all of its 119 retail stores across the country and world, the result of the “dramatic shift to online shopping in specific markets.” Keep in mind: Bose has long relied more on non-retail-store sales for the bulk of its revenue, so this probably isn’t as disruptive as it might look.


House approves caretaker registry bill

Steph Solis at MassLives reports that the House yesterday unanimously passed a bill that would create a registry of caretakers who are accused of abusing a person with a disability. The legislation now heads to conference committee with the Senate, which unanimously passed its own version of the bill in October.


Damn the lack of contracts, it’s full steam ahead for Mayflower Wind

File under: ‘speculative building’? From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Mayflower Wind still doesn’t have a final contract for its offshore wind farm off the coast of Nantucket, but it appears to be moving ahead with the project anyway in a bid to tap federal investment tax credits. A press issued by a joint venture of two Danish companies on Wednesday indicated Mayflower has hired them to build a 1,200 megawatt offshore substation.” 


‘Facetime’: Everett plans to launch ‘virtual hearings’ to settle parking ticket disputes, etc.

This isn’t your father’s city hall anymore. From SHNS’s Chris Van Buskirk: “The city of Everett plans this month to start offering ‘virtual hearings,’ giving individuals looking to challenge outstanding parking tickets and code enforcement issues an opportunity to take care of business remotely. The option, which will be extended with the assistance of FaceTime and Skype, is scheduled to begin Jan. 21.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Eldridge: It was lack of reforms, not reforms themselves, that sparked prison assault

State Sen. Jamie Eldridge is pushing back against a DOC union’s claim that a recent brutal assault on a prison guard was the result of criminal-justice reforms. Eldridge’s counter-arguments: 1.) The reforms haven’t even been implemented yet. 2.) Management’s failure to implement the reforms is partly to blame for the assault. Deborah Becker at WBUR has the details.


Lawrence DPW worker fatally shot while repairing potholes

This is terrible. From WCVB: “A Lawrence city worker who was part of a street work crew was shot and killed Wednesday afternoon, according to the Essex District Attorney’s Office. … 5 Investigates reports that the city worker was not the intended target of the shooting.” According to a recent Eagle Tribune update, a “search for a suspect is underway.”


It’s the best of times (Everett casino) and the worst of times (Springfield and Plainridge casinos)

More evidence that it’s a crowded market out there. From the Globe’s Andy Rosen: “Encore Boston Harbor took in $54 million in gambling revenue during December, marking the Everett casino’s best month since its opening last June. The results, published Wednesday by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, come during what can be a slow season for casinos. The other Massachusetts casinos, MGM Springfield and the Plainridge Park slots facility in Plainville, both reported their lowest monthly gambling revenues to date.”

WBZ Radio chops Jon Keller commentary amid companywide cutbacks

The Herald’s Rick Sobey reports that WBZ Newsradio 1030, as part of a companywide cost-cutting campaign, is reportedly ending its ties with longtime radio personalities in Boston, including political analyst Jon Keller, who confirms his 30-year run as a morning commentator at the radio station is now history. But fear not: Keller is keeping his more influential television gig at CBS Boston.

Boston Herald

Black business council demands boost in minority contracting

WGBH’s ongoing investigation into racial disparities in government contracting is getting some results. Paul Singer and Mark Herz at ‘GBH report that an influential Massachusetts black business group is now calling on state and local officials to commit to expanding contracts for minority-owned businesses.


In Harvard Square, a different kind of urban blight: Over investment

Can blight be caused by too much money? Kyle Paoletta at Boston Magazine argues that’s exactly what is happening in Harvard Square, where vacant storefronts are a sign not of disinvestment but of rapidly rising rents and property values. Paoletta has a solution: A vacancy tax that hits landlords who mothball perfectly viable properties. 

Boston Magazine

Protections for Narcan carriers finds support at hearing

Proposed legislation that would fine insurers who refuse to underwrite policies for people who carry the overdose-reversing drug naloxone–commonly known as Narcan–found broad support at a public hearing Wednesday, Christian Wade reports at the Gloucester Times. 

Gloucester Times

Not the end of it: Eversource says it will appeal denial of pipeline upgrade

TAfter months of debate and pressure from residents, the Ashland Conservation Commission has voted to deny a permit to allow Eversource to replace several miles of gas pipeline running through sensitive environmental areas in the town. Cesareo Contreras at the MetroWest Daily News reports Eversource, which says the upgrade is needed to serve customers, plans to exercise its appeals options. 

MetroWest Daily News

Framingham Community Corrections Center’s grand opening

The grand opening of the Framingham Community Corrections Center will take place Friday, January 17, 10 am, at the center’s 7,800-square foot facility located at 298 Howard Street, Suite 100, in Framingham. The event will feature remarks by the Massachusetts Senate President, Trial Court officials and representatives from local government and community organizations.

Massachusetts Probation Service

Condition of Education in the Commonwealth

The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy is hosting a discussion on the status of education in Massachusetts. The event will explore the latest data on educational progress in the Commonwealth and look at innovative approaches to measuring student success. Education Secretary James Peyser and Commissioner of Early Education and Care Samantha Aigner-Treworgy will be among the speakers.

Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy

Boston Speaker Series: Douglas Brinkley

An award-winning historian, Brinkley has written on a wide range of topics, including D-Day, Hurricane Katrina, President Kennedy, and the Great Space Race and the lives of Ronald Reagan, Bob Dylan and Walter Cronkite. Brinkley serves as a CNN Presidential Historian, and as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

Lesley University

Boston Speaker Series: Douglas Brinkley

An award-winning historian, Brinkley has written on a wide range of topics, including D-Day, Hurricane Katrina, President Kennedy, and the Great Space Race and the lives of Ronald Reagan, Bob Dylan and Walter Cronkite. Brinkley serves as a CNN Presidential Historian, and as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

Lesley University

The Impact of Latinos in Massachusetts

The Impact of Latinos in Massachusetts incorporates a dialogue with executive leaders around the buying power and impact of Latinos in community and business.

El Mundo Boston

Today’s Headlines


Boston councilors want tax-exempt colleges to pay more – Boston Herald

Nine more arrested in compressor station protest – Patriot Ledger


CCC to vote on 16 central Mass. licenses, host agreement rules Thursday – Telegram & Gazette

Momentum builds across Cape to ban plastics – Cape Cod Times


Democrats plan $50 million campaign to flip state legislatures ahead of redistricting – Politico

House delivers impeachment charges to Senate, clearing way for trial – New York Times

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