Happening Today

Senate climate debate, Urban League meeting, and more

— Attorney General Maura Healey gives the keynote speech at the Massachusetts Bar Association’s annual In-House Counsel Conference, Bentley University, Waltham, 9 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary Kathleen Theoharides and other officials visit the Polar Beverages bottling plant highlighting recent energy efficiency upgrades, 1001 Southbridge Street, Worcester, 10 a.m.

State Retirement Board meets, with Treasurer Deb Goldberg chairing, One Winter St., 8th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

Senate meets in formal session to take up a trio of climate-related bills dealing with carbon emission reduction, energy efficiency and electric vehicles, Senate Chamber, 11 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and local leaders celebrate the completion of Princeton’s new broadband network, Town Hall – Annex, 6 Town Hall Drive, Princeton, 11:30 a.m.

Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts holds its annual meeting to hear guest speaker Brenda Cassellius, the superintendent of Boston Public Schools, Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley St., Roxbury, 6 p.m.

For the most comprehensive listing 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

Coronavirus updates: China flights to Logan, Tufts Medical on alert, more schools suspend trips

Boston’s two major dailies this morning are playing up the growing concerns over the possible spread of the coronavirus. From a three-reporter team at the Herald: “China flights still arriving at Logan International Airport as coronavirus fears grow.” Also from the Herald: “Beijing-to-Boston passengers don masks.”  

Meanwhile, from the Globe’s Felice Freyer: “In the heart of Chinatown, Tufts Medical readies for possible coronavirus cases.” And the Globe’s Danny McDonald and Matt Berg have more on the growing list of New England colleges suspending study-abroad programs in China and calling students home.

It is possible Elizabeth Warren can both win and lose in Iowa?

The Iowa caucuses are now only days away – and, judging by the polls, it doesn’t look good for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But it’s Iowa, where the rules and results of caucusing and voting are never quite clear – and so it’s possible Warren could end up winning by losing, or losing by winning, or whatever. David Bernstein at WGBH takes a look at all the variables that could change the outcome, or the perceived outcome, for Warren and other candidates.

Along roughly the same lines, from the Washington Post: “Figuring out who won the Iowa caucuses could be a lot harder than you think.” And from the NYT: “Everyone’s a Winner in Iowa.” 


SJC: Cops can’t simply pat-and-frisk motorists after routine traffic stops

It’s sort of the highway version of neighborhood stop-and-frisk programs. From the Globe John Ellement: “Police can no longer frisk drivers during traffic stops based solely on safety concerns, but must have independent information that the driver is potentially armed, the state’s highest court ruled Wednesday.” Definitely read the story. It’s not just pat and frisk. It’s sometimes handcuff, pat and frisk.

Boston Globe

Healey: Non-utility electric suppliers overcharged consumers by $340 million

In an opinion piece at CommonWealth magazine, Attorney General Maura Healey resumes her campaign to ban so-called “competitive electric suppliers” who sell electricity to individual customers in Massachusetts, saying they’re nothing more than predatory entities – and she says an upcoming study will show they’ve effectively overcharged consumers by $340 million since 2015. And the problem is only getting worse, she says.


Is the State Police OT scandal far worse than thought?

The Globe’s Matt Rocheleau reports that court filings suggest that the State Police overtime scandal may have been far larger, and stretched over a longer period of time, than previously believed, now that the feds have their hands on boxes of old agency records that mysteriously couldn’t be found for 18 months and then suddenly re-appeared this past summer. A key timeline sentence in Rocheleau’s story: “By the time those older records were given to prosecutors, they were just past, if not near, the five- and six-year statute of limitations for bringing additional fraud and embezzlement charges.”

In other State Police scandal news, from the AP at WBUR: “State Police Retiree Avoids Jail In OT Scandal.”

It’s semi-official: Four legislative special elections will be competitive

This is encouraging for those often discouraged by the lack of two-party competition in the state. SHNS’s Colin Young reports that “all four March 31 special elections for vacant state legislative positions are on track to be contested by at least one Democrat and one Republican.”

Meanwhile, two candidates – Spingfield school committee member Denise M. Hurst and city councilor Orlando Ramos – have already declared they’re running to fill the seat of state Rep. Jose Tosado, who announced earlier this week he won’t be seeking re-election in November, reports Elizabeth Roman at MassLive.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Markey’s big endorsement haul: Twenty mayors in one fell swoop

As far as endorsement go, this one is impressive, assuming this is more than just rhetorical support and actually leads to vote-seeking boots on the ground, to wit: The endorsement of U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, who is being challenged by U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, by 20 mayors across the state, including those in Lawrence, Lynn, Quincy, Somerville etc. SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) has the details.

You mean Rosehips don’t prevent cancer?

The Globe’s Yvonne Abraham writes that maybe – just maybe – it’s time for state regulators, or someone else, to start paying closer attention to all the miracle claims by dietary-supplement makers at your local pharmacy, whose supplements aisle has become “a place so dangerous, and so unregulated, that it would try the most dedicated libertarian.”

Boston Globe

State’s ‘rape kit’ tracking system launches

From Melissa Hanson at MassLive: “A confidential online system that will allow survivors of rape and sexual assault to track their evidence kit as it moves through the testing process has launched in Massachusetts, officials said Wednesday. The sexual assault evidence collection kit tracking system, known as Track-Kit, has launched in six of the state’s counties.”


Lottery dangles $5,000 for winning jingle — and we have it

We have the winner: ‘Ride of the Valkyries.’ But that’s not a jingle. So maybe it won’t work for the Lottery, which has announced $5,000 will go to the winner of its “Sound of Winning” contest for a new jingle for its “State of Winning” advertising and social media campaign. SHNS’s Colin Young has the contest details.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Plainridge’s $164M bet on Barstool Sports

Penn National Gaming, owner of the struggling Plainridge Park Casino, has made a $164 million bet that a partnership with the online Barstool Sports will drive young gamblers, and potentially young sports gamblers, to its venues. Swampscott-native David Portnoy, president and founder of Barstool Sports, is pumped about the deal. And why not? He and others are the main beneficiaries of Penn’s $164 million bet. CBS Boston and the Herald’s Stefan Geller have more.

Hey, whatever happened to that Logan monorail idea?

Now that our dreams of a Seaport gondola have been dashed, it’s time to turn our attention to that overdue study about a possible monorail-like system at Logan Airport. Except the Massport monorail study hasn’t been completed yet – and may not be for a while. The BBJ’s Greg Ryan has the disappointing news. Why do we get the impression Massport is dragging its feet on this? 


Provincetown welcomes Cape’s first pot shop

Finally. More than 14 months after the state’s first recreational marijuana dispensaries opened their doors, Cape Cod has its first pot shop, though it’s all the way down in Provincetown, reports Ethan Genter at the Cape Cod Times.  We liked Universal Hub’s headline on the opening: “Provincetown, with 3,000 residents, gets first pot shop, while Boston …”

Cape Cod Times

Globe apologizes for calling black artists ‘anthropoids’

It was obviously an unintended mistake, but, boy, what an unintended mistake. From Tori Bedford at WGBH: “The Boston Globe issued an apology Tuesday after referring to a group of black musicians as ‘anthropoids’ in an article about the upcoming Boston Calling music festival lineup. … ‘Anthropoids’ translates to ‘ape man’ in most dictionaries. Camp Blood is comprised of musicians Haasan Barclay and Shaka Dendy, both black men.”


Study: State not spending enough to stop tobacco use

Massachusetts should be spending ten times more on efforts to stamp out tobacco use, the American Lung Association argues in a report that says many states are lagging in how they use tobacco settlement money, Christian Wade reports in the Gloucester Times. 

Gloucester Times

GOP committee candidate claims Lyons violated party bylaw

From the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “New cracks are coming to light within the Massachusetts GOP, with a candidate for the Republican State Committee accusing Chairman Jim Lyons of violating a party bylaw by endorsing her incumbent opponent.” Lyons is denying the charge, citing advice from the party’s counsel.

Boston Herald

Smurfs alert, Part II: The feds are watching you, pot smugglers

In a follow-up to her original storyon marijuana ‘smurfs’ and ‘loopers,’ the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo reports that federal agents are also on the alert for those who buy large quantities of pot at multiple retail stores in Massachusetts – and then try to sell the weed on the black market in other states.

Boston Herald

The end is near, Boston!

Optimistic about the future of Boston? You obviously haven’t been reading the headlines of late. From Thomas Stackpole at Boston Magazine: “Boston’s Middle Class is Doomed.” From Jessie Scanlon at the Globe: “Success is killing San Francisco. Is Boston next?” And from Miles Howard at WBUR: “Boston Is Losing Its Children — What’s At Stake, And What Has Already Been Lost.”

That does it. We’re moving to Worcester. 

Lawsuit: Civilly committed addict denied medical care by state

Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth magazine reports that the father of a 27-year-old man addicted to drugs has filed a suit against the Department of Corrections and its medical provider, charging that the DOC provided inadequate medical care to the now deceased son, who had been civilly committed to Massachusetts Substance Abuse Center. The case puts a spotlight on the practice of treating addictions in prison settings, Shoenberg writes.


Cambridge finds security deposits just not worth it

Refunds for everyone! The Cambridge Housing Authority–the city’s largest landlord–says it will no longer require security deposits for new tenants and will refund deposits it already has on the books after discovering it costs the city more to collect and manage the payments than it actually takes in, Sue Reinert reports via Cambridge Day.  

Cambridge Day

Familiar ring: Pittsfield latest city to consider panhandling regulations

We know how this movie ends. A Pittsfield city councilor wants to enact regulations on panhandlers and sign-holders who occupy roadway medians, saying they pose a public safety hazard, Amanda Drane reports at the Berkshire Eagle. The city council directed counsel to investigate, but if the experiences of other cities such as Worcester and New Bedford are any guide, any meaningful restrictions will run up against First Amendment issues.   

Berkshire Eagle

In Worcester, Table Talk tax break comes without salary guarantees

Half a pie is better than none? The Worcester city council’s economic development committee has given its blessing to a tax deal that will save the company $4.6 million over 20 years in exchange for creating 50 jobs–even though the company says it won’t immediately comply with a city policy that all such jobs pay at least $15 an hour. Nick Kotsopolous of the Telegram has the details. 


Our Nation’s Founders and Today’s Political Challenges

Experts will discuss how our nation’s founders grappled with many of the same political issues that our country faces today and how we can learn by reflecting on our past. The panel will reflect on the difficulties of political polarization and approaches to health care during the time of our nation’s founding and how we can use these lessons of history to address today’s political challenges.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

Paul Krugman at Back Bay Events Center

Paul Krugman presents Arguing with Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future in conversation with Paul Solmon.

Harvard Book Store

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

Campaigns 101: Resources for Candidates and Campaign Managers

Whether you’re a first time candidate or a seasoned candidate, you’ll benefit from this workshop about how to run for office in Dedham.

Women in Democracy Dedham

Thomas Pickering: U.S.-Russia Relations: What Can We Do About It?

Please join the Russia and Eurasia Program at The Fletcher School for a conversation with Ambassador Thomas Pickering about the current state of U.S.-Russia relations. The event will be followed by a reception in the Hall of Flags.

Fletcher Russia and Eurasia Program

Our Shared Work: Lifting up Democracy from Grassroots to Grass Tops

During challenging times in the socio-economic and political landscape, how does and can the university work with communities to engage individuals in efforts to lift-up democracy through grassroots organizing, public policy and institutional reforms, and civic engagement?

UMass Boston Office of Community Partnerships

Boston Speaker Series: Peter Diamandis

Fortune named Diamandis one of the “World’s Greatest Leaders.” A space entrepreneur turned innovation pioneer, he founded the XPRIZE Foundation to fund big money competitions to inspire groundbreaking developments in science and technology, and to solve some of the planet’s most pressing challenges.

Lesley University

Being a Republican on College Campuses

Come and hear Jamie Gass of the Pioneer Institute who will present 2019 Math and English Common Core disappointing results and explain why, as well as Kaila Webb from Wellesley College present her non-profit which aims to bring diversity of thought on college campuses.

Wellesley Republican Town Committee

Boston Speaker Series: Peter Diamandis

Fortune named Diamandis one of the “World’s Greatest Leaders.” A space entrepreneur turned innovation pioneer, he founded the XPRIZE Foundation to fund big money competitions to inspire groundbreaking developments in science and technology, and to solve some of the planet’s most pressing challenges.

Lesley University

Getting to the Point with Richard Blanco

Presidential inaugural poet Richard Blanco will visit the Institute to discuss the themes in his poetry collection, How to Love a Country.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

ADL’s Breaking Barriers Speaker Series Presents: An Evening with Andrea Campbell

Please join us on Thursday, March 5, 2020 to hear from City Councilor Andrea Campbell.

ADL New England

Today’s Headlines


Remake of Top of the Hub to cost $125 million – Boston Globe

Boston’s middle class is doomed – Boston Magazine


Harrington HealthCare to join UMass Memorial – Worcester Business Journal

Ipswich to vote on plastic straw ban – Salem News

Holyoke discusses proper firearm storage after pre-schooler brings gun to school – MassLive


Trump shuns Democrats as he signs USMCA into law – Politico

Warren Buffet will sell his newspaper empire – New York Times

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