Happening Today

Women’s caucus, prisoners’ complaints, and more

— Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides delivers the keynote address at a MassINC Polling Group and Barr Foundation event that will review new polling data on what Massachusetts residents think about climate change, UMass Club, One Beacon St., Boston, 9:30 a.m.

Massachusetts Women’s Legislative Caucus and the American Heart Association host their annual Go Red for Women event, with Attorney General Maura Healey, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate President Karen Spilka and Speaker Robert DeLeo attending, Grand Staircase, 11 a.m.

Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts and other groups hold a press conference to discuss what they call a “weeks-long campaign of extreme abuse” against inmates following an attack on correctional officers at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center earlier this month, Outside the House chamber, 12 p.m.

Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security holds a hearing on four bills, including legislation aimed at providing protections to prisoners in solitary confinement, Room A-1, 1 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and House Minority Leader Brad Jones meet privately, with a possible media availability afterward, House Speaker’s Office, 2 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: First case reported in state, flights to Logan diverted, Baker and Walsh’s reassurances

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the latest coronavirus news. But just in case … From Sidney Wertheim at WBUR: “Boston Man Has Coronavirus, Mass. Health Officials Confirm.” … From Rick Sobey and Erin Tiernan at the Herald: “China to Boston direct flights are shut down.” … From SHNS (pay wall): “Baker on Coronavirus: State Surveillance is ‘Really Critical’” … From the Herald: “Public shouldn’t be scared of coronavirus, Mayor Walsh says.” … And from Universal Hub: “A world-class city deserves world-class panic mongering.”

The Iowa Caucuses: Can Warren win today by coming in second or third or fourth?

Mercifully, the Iowa caucuses are finally here. And the Globe’s Liz Goodwin reports how U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who hasn’t been doing too well in recent polls, hopes to use the “arcane rules” in Iowa to snatch victory even if she initially comes in second or third place in initial caucus voting, etc. 

Meanwhile, Anthony Brooks at WBUR explains why Warren, as well as other Dem senators running for president, has had to rely on “ads, surrogates and tele-town halls” to reach voters in Iowa. And one of those surrogates is none other than U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who Politico reports is wowing people, though black voters remain skeptical about Warren. 

Back to Iowa’s convoluted caucus rules, here’s some sample headlines showing just how ridiculous the process is for determining winners. From the NYT: “Iowa Will Have 4 Sets of Results. Here’s How The Times Will Declare a Winner.” From the Globe’s James Lindell: “How the Iowa caucuses work, and why there could be more than one winner.”  

Btw: The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is already looking ahead to next Tuesday’s less complicated New Hampshire primary: “Bernie Sanders climbing in new NH poll.”

Boston Globe

Kerry strongly denies he’s considering a late 2020 run

This is an odd one. Former U.S. Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president in 2004, is adamantly (and angrily) denying a report by NBC News that he’s considering a late-entry run for president. NBC’s source? One of its analysts allegedly overheard Kerry on the phone discussing a possible bid. The Globe’s Jim Puzzanghera and Liz Goodwin have the rather strange details.

Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center: Retaliatory beatings?

These are tense times in Shirley. Deborah Becker at WBUR reports that inmates at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center say they’re being subjected to beatings, verbal abuse and other punishments by guards in the wake of an attack on correctional officers earlier this month at the maximum-security facility.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Gal Tziperman Lotan and John Hilliard report that five state lawmakers led an unannounced inspection of Souza-Baranowski on Sunday — and at least one senator is criticizing the collective-punishment approach towards prisoners. 


State Police chief plans — or hopes– to fire 22 troopers tied to OT scandal

From the Globe’s Matt Rocheleau: “The Massachusetts State Police plan to fire 22 troopers and strip the pensions of another 14 recent retirees, as the state’s largest law enforcement agency seeks to bring to a close a yearslong overtime scandal that has sent a parade of troopers through federal court.”

The Herald’s Howie Carris more than a little skeptical about the crackdown, considering the arduous and long process of stripping troopers of their jobs and pensions. 

Report raises alarms over statewide gas utility safety issues

It’s not on the Merrimack Valley level of alarm. But a new report nevertheless does raise concerns over the age and condition of the state’s natural-gas pipeline system, particularly the system overseen by the state’s largest gas utility, National Grid. Colin Young and Bruce Mohl, in an apparent cobbled together SHNS/CommonWealth story, have the details.


The Senate’s climate votes: The harmony, the costs, the vindication

There are a number of stories out there about the Senate’s passage of three climate-change bills late last week, as lawmakers aggressively push ahead to curb carbon pollution. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth: “7 takes on Senate climate change debate/Lots of harmony, plus some political intrigue.” From the Herald’s Mary Markos: “Critics wary of ramifications of state senate climate policy.” And from Mina Coruz at the Herald News: “After months of urging Senate action, Taunton senator lauds passage climate change bills.”

The sky didn’t fall: Lottery sales hold steady despite opening of casinos

The Globe’s Andy Rosen reports that state Lottery sales haven’t been hurt since the opening of three casinos in Massachusetts, “chugging along as if nothing has changed” and defying dire predictions that casino gambling would eat into Lottery revenues. Meanwhile, Steph Solis at MassLivereports that House Speaker Robert DeLeo isn’t overly concerned about the disappointing revenue performances of the state’s casinos .

Boston Globe

Au pair sues for back pay after court ruling on minimum wage

From Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin: “An au pair who worked in Middlesex County is seeking at least $10 million for herself and roughly 500 other au pairs in a suit against the California concern that brought them to Massachusetts, now that a federal court has upheld the legality of a Massachusetts law that requires au pairs earn at least the state minimum wage.”

We did the math for you: The amount sought averages out to $20,000 per au pair.

Universal Hub

Strong showing: Kennedy surges ahead of Markey in 4Q fundraising

He’s found his groove. U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy handily outpaced U.S. Sen. Ed Markey in fourth-quarter fundraising and now boasts a bigger campaign warchest than his primary-contest rival, Julia Manchester reports via The Hill. Kennedy brought in $2.5 million in the last three months of 2019, compared to $1.4 million for Markey — and had $5.5 million in cash on hand compared to Markey’s $4.6 million. 

The Hill

The Great Western Massachusetts Money Race

Speaking of fundraising: It’s not a close race, but it’s nevertheless a race for money in the First Congressional District primary battle between upstart Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal. Care to guess who’s winning? Jackson Cote at MassLive and Matt Szafranski at Western Massachusetts Politics & Insight have the details.

‘What Massachusetts can teach America’

The Globe’s Ideas section over the weekend was gushing with Massachusetts pride, with a “Massachusetts Works” package of stories touting how the Bay State is first among equals in the United States when it comes to social progress and bragging how the Ideas section is “turning the typical model of journalism on its head” by focusing on the positive. Harvard’s Michael Porter has the lead piece, headlined ‘What Massachusetts can teach America,’ touting the state’s No. 1 ranking in his ‘Social Progress Index.’ And there’s a Globe editorial too: “Massachusetts does a lot right.”

No, Rep Kearney, the evil Danes are not threatening our coastal waters

Lloyd Mendes at CommonWealth magazine rebuts a recent opinion piece by state Rep. Patrick Kearney that warned the Trump administration was trying to weaken the Jones Act, thus weakening American security and the state’s maritime economy. Mendes’ response: The Jones Act is actually weakening the local offshore wind industry, hindering the ability of Danish, British and Spanish firms to build new offshore wind farms – and the last time he checked Demark, Britain and Spain were all NATO allies of the United States.


Help wanted: Municipal worker retirement wave has communities scrambling

The Baby Boomer retirement wave is hitting municipal payrolls particularly hard and the Mass. Municipal Association is launching a campaign to make public payroll jobs more appealing to young people, Elaine Thompson reports in the Telegram.


Coastal property owners beware: The climate regulatory clock is ticking

UMass-Dartmouth’s Chad McGuire and Michael Goodman write at CommonWealth magazine that we can expect to see more disputes between local governments and coastal property owners as climate change grips the region, creating an “urgent need” for more “professional land-use planning along coastlines” and “strategies to manage the consequences for coastal land values.”


Top priority for UMass-Boston’s new chancellor-in-waiting: Unity

WGBH’s Kirk Carapezza reports that Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, the top and only finalist to become UMass-Boston’s next chancellor, got the campus red-carpet treatment on Friday, with both Suárez-Orozco and UMass president Marty Meehan declaring that unity is their top priority, after more than a few years of deep divisions at the college.


Fall River’s post-Correia challenges: There’s a lot of them

Jo C. Goode at the Herald Review reports on the pressing priorities facing new Fall River Paul Coogan, now that a certain indicted individual is gone from the mayor’s office in City Hall. Among the challenges: Filling key city positions, establishing a working relationship with the City Council, and battling the scourge of abandoned buildings in Fall River.

Herald News

Local unions rally against future bus privatization at the MBTA

Taking their protests from the MBTA board room to an old bus depot in Quincy, dozens of MBTA union members rallied on Sunday morning against plans to possibly privatize some future T bus lines, reports the Patriot Ledger’s Joe DiFasio. U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, who is running for the U.S. Senate, was among those who joined the workers, as DiFasio reports. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl has more on Kennedy’s anti-privatization support.

Patriot Ledger

South Station’s coming Little Big Dig

Well, we did get through the Big Dig. So we’ll get through this too, we suppose. The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro reports on the expected mess – delays, detours etc. – that commuters will likely face now that construction on a new South Station tower is set to commence at the same time that new fare gates are installed.

Mystery solver? Methuen emails could reveal how $400K cop salaries came to be

Here we go. A cache of emails could be released any day now and may shed light on how, exactly, Methuen police department supervisors scored a massive pay-raise in a contract that nearly pushed the town to bankruptcy. Bill Kirk at the Eagle-Tribune resets the table as a new mayor tries to untangle the mess. 

Eagle Tribune

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


Blue Hill Observatory celebrates 135th year of collecting weather data – Patriot Ledger

Advocates: Boston Public Schools needs better bus plan – Boston Herald


Plymouth shop to start selling recreational marijuana Monday – Patriot Ledger

Cost of electric school bus service in Amherst districts may be too much – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Downeaster train from Maine to Boston broke records in 2019 – Boston.com


Klobuchar denies Iowa caucus pact with Biden – Politico

Iowa does represent American: It’s old – New York Times

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