Happening Today

Safe Communities Act, Baker in Springfield, and more

— The Massachusetts Municipal Association this morning starts its two-day annual meeting in Boston, with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito among those expected to speak, Hynes Convention Center & Sheraton Boston Hotel, Boston.

— Mayor Marty Walsh is in Washington, D.C. for the 88th Winter Meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors.

— Opponents and supporters of the Safe Communities Act hold dueling press conferences about the legislation, which will be reviewed later in the day by a legislative committee, with opponents meeting in Room 428, 9:30 a.m. and with supporters meeting in Room 437, 10 a.m.

Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security reviews a number of immigration-related bills, including the proposed Safe Communities Act, Gardner Auditorium, 11 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker,  U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and others gather for a ribbon cutting for Platform C at Union Station in Springfield, 55 Murray Street, Springfield, 4:15 p.m.

For the most comprehensive list of calendar items, check out State House News Service’s Daily Advances (pay wall – free trial subscriptions available), as well as MassterList’s Beacon Hill Town Square below.

Today’s Stories

Net-zero Revolution: Senate to debate climate bills next week

Things are moving fast on the climate-change front on Beacon Hill. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl and the Globe’s Matt Stout report that the state Senate yesterday unveiled its own aggressive climate-change package, including a 2050 net-zero pollution goal that calls for specific mandates and targets that the state must meet over time. And the Senate has put the package on the legislative fast track, with plans to debate the three bills next week.

Meanwhile, the Baker administration is moving fast on its own 2050 net-zero plan. From SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall): “Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides plans to issue a letter of determination in the coming weeks to formally establish a policy of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, she told the News Service Thursday.”

State Department of Public Health issues coronavirus outbreak advisory

It’s a precaution, not an official warning. From Anne-Gerard Flynn at MassLive: “The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has issued a clinical advisory update to hospitals and other health care providers in the state on the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak linked to a novel coronavirus in Central China that has caused a number of deaths there.”

The Globe’s Felice Freyer reports that officials believe there’s no need to worry yet, but precautions are indeed being taken, including at Logan Airport. The Washington Post, btw, has a map about where the virus has spread so far, mostly in countries along the Pacific rim. 


First child flu death of season reported in Massachusetts

On another health-care front, from a report at CBS Boston: “A teenager from Worcester County has died from the flu. State health officials say it is the first influenza-associated pediatric death of this flu season in the state. … The Department of Public Health is urging people who have not received a flu shot to get vaccinated.”

CBS Boston

Are Warren and Clinton’s attacks on Bernie backfiring?

From the Herald’s Hillary Chabot: “Bernie Sanders loyalists claim the mudslinging attacks of sexism, unlikability and ineffectiveness from fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren and 2016 rival Hillary Clinton have actually boosted the Vermont senator’s support as voters start to pay closer attention to the 2020 Democratic primary.”

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Michael Graham gleefully writes that Bernie is reportedly expanding his support among women voters in NH.

Boston Herald

Baker ally to advise Bloomberg’s presidential campaign

Cue the next Howie Carr ‘RINO’ column. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “Former New York City mayor and Medford native Michael Bloomberg has hired a top political advisor to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker to advise his Massachusetts presidential campaign efforts in the run-up to Super Tuesday. Will Keyser, a former aide to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and a Baker confidant, will be a senior advisor to Bloomberg’s campaign in Massachusetts.”

The Globe’s James Pindell has more on the Keyser appointment.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Jon Cronin’s highly impressive commercial development and tax-collection victories

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports on the impressive twofer victories by restaurateur Joe Cronin at City Hall and at the State House. They have to do with A.) A five-story commercial development in the city’s marine industrial park and B.) Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed acceleration of state sales tax collections. Chesto explains the connections involving a guy better known for running a restaurant empire.

Speaking of the governor’s tax-collection idea, from SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall): “Gov. Charlie Baker wants to arm the state’s tax collection agency to go after retailers who might be short-changing the state of sales tax revenue through the use of technology that falsifies digital sales records.”

Boston Globe

In wake of ZBA bribery scandal, city officials eye major reforms

And speaking of commercial developments, from the Globe’s Milton Valencia and Tim Logan: “As a former City Hall aide awaits sentencing in federal court Friday for taking a bribe from a developer, city officials said they expect to soon propose reforms to the Boston Zoning Board of Appeal that could have major consequences for the building boom that has been steadily remaking many neighborhoods.”

Alan Dershowitz: Why I flip-flopped on impeachment

Actually, Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz doesn’t say ‘flip-flopped’ in a NYT letter to the editor this morning. But he is defending, well, his flip-flip on his impeachment defense of Bill Clinton in 1998 and his impeachment defense of Donald Trump today. He’s reacting to yesterday’s NYT column by Steven J. Harper, who accuses his former Harvard Law professor of you-know-what.


Criticism intensifies over Iranian student’s detention

Maybe the furor hasn’t died down. MassLive’s Jackson Cote and the Globe’s Tonya Alanez report that criticism continues to mount over the feds’ recent handling of an Iranian student’s deportation from Boston, with U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley expressing “serious concerns” about the incident and other deportations.

Meanwhile, from the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert: “Warren pledges to reverse travel ban on day one.” And the student’s lawyers have a Globe op-ed this morning: “Customs and Border Protection goes rogue.” Note: The various pieces do acknowledge the “concerns about the student’s anti-American ideology and his family’s connections to a US-designated terrorist group,” as Alanez rightly reports high in her story.

‘There’s still hope for Delonte West’

One of the best pieces of local journalism this week? Right up there – if not at the very top – is Globe sports writer Gary Washburn’s moving and heartbreaking column on the sad post-career life of former Boston Celtics star Delonte West, who has bravely battled the odds all his life and who desperately needs help today. We admired Delonte when he played for the Celts. We admire him even more after reading this column.

She’s free, he’s not: Michelle Carter released early from prison

Curt Blow at Wicked Local reports that Michelle Carter, of texting-suicide infamy, yesterday was, as expected, released early from the Bristol County House of Correction. Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson says Carter was a “model inmate” who earned early release under the jail’s set rules, reports MassLive.

The NY Post reports that relatives of Conrad Roy, who took his own life after Carter texted him multiple suicide suggestions, are outraged by her early release. 

Wicked Local

Meanwhile, former Insys chief is headed to prison

Garbrielle Emanuel at WGBH reports that former Insys Therapeutics chief John Kapoor was sentenced yesterday to five and a half years in prison for his role in pushing the sale of his company’s highly addictive oral fentanyl spray, a campaign many believe helped fuel the opioid crisis. We’re talking blatant bribery and kickback schemes here, so don’t pull out the free-market-martyr violin for this guy.


Baker on that ‘rant’ comment: ‘Word choice was terrible’

Gov. Charlie Baker is still explaining his use of the word ‘rant’ to describe a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech by U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, telling WGBH’s Boston Public Radio that his “word choice was terrible” and that he’s personally reached out to apologize to Pressley. Phillip Martin at ‘GBH has more.


How to handle an offensive voice mail, 101

Speaking of rants of the clearly genuine sort, City Councilor Julia Mejia was the recipient of a ‘disturbing’ voice-mail from a man telling her to “go back to where you came from.” Her response? Posting the hate-filled message online for all to hear and behold. The Globe’s Steve Annear and Universal Hub have more.

Harvard professors: Farmers, maids, prisoners of the world, unite!

The Globe’s Katie Johnston reports on two Harvard Law School professors who are proposing a complete overhaul – or actually starting from scratch — of the nation’s labor laws to extend union coverage to “agricultural, domestic, undocumented, and incarcerated workers, as well as to lower-level managers, graduate students, and independent contractors.”

Boston Globe

Frustrations galore over pot licensing

CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg and MassLive’s Melissa Hanson report on yesterday’s hearing at which frustrated pot-shop applicants got to unload on all the obstacles and challenges they have to overcome to land so-called ‘economic empowerment’ licenses. And they have a lot of legitimate beefs, including the thicket of municipal requirements and lack of capital.

Upstairs, downstairs: Middle East owners eye redevelopment

Major changes could be coming to Cambridge’s Central Square as the owners of the iconic Middle East nightclub say they’ll market the property for redevelopment, though they pledged to keep the music venue in the picture. Marc Levy at Cambridge Day reports the owners believe the property–purchase in 2014 for $7.1 million–could fetch as much as $40 million in today’s market. 

Cambridge Day

Case in point: Salem housing rezoning falls short of supermajority approval

Here’s another example that supporters of Gov. Baker’s housing bill can cite. The Salem City Council fell one vote short of the two-thirds supermajority required to rezone property to allow for 180 apartments to be constructed, Dustin Luca reports at the Salem News. The council could reconsider the measure as early as today. The legislature, meanwhile, has yet to pass Baker’s proposal to kill off such two-thirds supermajority requirements .

Salem News

Sunday public affairs TV: Eileen McAnneny, Stephanie Pollack and more

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Eileen McAnneny, head of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, who talks with host Jon Keller about Gov. Charle Baker’s new budget, the projected state budget gap and pressure for new taxes.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, who talks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, followed by a roundtable discussion with political analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s main topic: Criminal Justice Reform.

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

One Vote Matters!

“One Vote Matters!” is the Brockton Public Library’s Kick-Off of a 10-month series of discussions, movies & activities for all ages, to celebrate the Centennial Anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The Centennial highlights key moments in our history in the struggle for women’s rights, and how their efforts helped to pass the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.

Brockton Public Library

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

10th Annual New England First Amendment Awards

Named after the late publisher of The Providence Journal, the Hamblett Award is given each year to an individual who has promoted, defended or advocated for the First Amendment throughout his or her career. NEFAC will honor A. G. Sulzberger at its tenth annual luncheon from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 7, 2020, at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.

New England First Amendment Coalition

Today’s Headlines


Middle East nightclub complex listed for sale, a potentially huge change for Central Square – Cambridge Day

As city hall aide awaits sentencing in bribery case, city looks for reforms – Boston Globe


Animal rights group to protest petting zoo at DCU Center – Telegram & Gazette

Framingham assistant superintendent of schools arrested in Hudson – MetroWest Daily News

Whistleblower Kempthorne counters DA Harrington’s claim on records release – Berkshire Eagle


Democrats seek to pre-empt Trump defense as focus turns to Biden – New York Times

Amazon asks court to halt Microsoft’s work on Pentagon’s ‘war cloud’ – The Hill

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