Happening Today

Mental-health parity, East-West rail study, T repair plans

— The Cannabis Control Commission meets to likely consider a number of marijuana business licenses, Worcester Union Station, 2 Washington Square, Worcester, 10 a.m.

— Senate leaders hold a media-only briefing to outline mental health parity and access legislation that will also address the mental health care industry workforce, hosted by Senate President Karen Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues and others, Senate Reading Room, 10 a.m.

League of Women Voters of Massachusetts holds a celebration for the 100th anniversary of the organization, with Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Robert DeLeo expected to attend, Room 428, 10 a.m.

East-West Passenger Rail Study Advisory Committee meets to release estimates on ridership, physical impacts, environmental impacts and costs of a potential rail extension from Worcester to Springfield and Pittsfield, Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel, Ballroom North, One Monach Place, Springfield, 1 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Secretary Stephane Pollack and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak announce 2020 MBTA infrastructure acceleration work that will start in the coming weeks, Reservoir Car House, 21 Strathmore Road, Brookline, 1:30 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

Mitt’s lonely stand: Romney only Republican to vote to convict Trump

As expected, the Republican-controlled Senate yesterday voted to acquit President Trump of impeachment charges that he abused the powers of his office and obstructed Congress, as the Washington Post reports. But there was one dramatic GOP holdout: Mitt Romney, the Utah senator and former Massachusetts governor, who voted to convict Trump on the abuse-of-power charge, report the NYT and the Globe’s Martin Finucane.

Romney predicted he’d face recriminations for his vote – and recriminations he’s gotten. From the president, the president’s son, you name it, according to the NYT. And from the Herald’s Howie Carr, of course. But then there’s this from Jon Keller at WBZ-TV: “Mitt Romney’s father would be proud of vote to convict President Trump.” 

Protesting the president’s acquittal

There were more than a few locals unhappy with the Senate’s acquittal of President Trump yesterday. From the Boston Globe: “Hundreds gather on Boston Common to protest Trump’s acquittal.” From MassLive: “Springfield rally protests impeachment acquittal of President Donald Trump.” And from the Berkshire Eagle: “Protesters in Pittsfield: Impeachment conclusion shames the nation.”

Warren’s last stand? Campaign pulls back on ads and tries to reassure NH voters

The Washington Post reports that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is “trying to conserve cash and pulled down a week of TV ads in Nevada and South Carolina after a disappointing third-place standing in Iowa that failed to provide a fundraising bump.” Meanwhile, Fred Thys at WBUR reports that Warren is trying to reassure New Hampshire voters that she’s indeed a viable candidate for president – while trying to reassure reporters that the news out of Iowa wasn’t all that bad.

But the news keeps getting worse for Warren, with not one, but two, new polls showing her well behind in the Granite State primary, now only five days away. Here’s the WCVB/UMass Amherst poll and here’s the latest updated Globe/WBZ-TV/Suffolk poll.

In an opinion piece at the Globe, John Ellis writes of the “gathering gloom for Democrats” and thinks only one candidate can probably save Dems at this point. Hint: The potential savior is from Medford.

Au Pair agency suspends operations in Massachusetts after court ruling

Maybe another organization that doesn’t mind complying with state wage laws will fill this void. From Isaiah Thompson at WGBH: “An agency that facilitates au pair child care arrangements between Massachusetts families and foreign visitors is suspending its operations in Massachusetts, citing a December court ruling that affirmed that families hosting au pairs must comply with state labor laws, including the state’s minimum wage.”


Baker-tied PAC supported Tuesday’s Dem primary winner?

Kate Lipper-Garabedian, a Democrat who won Tuesday’s special Dem primary election to fill the seat of former Rep. Paul Brodeur, got a helping campaign hand from an unexpected source: A super PAC with ties to Gov. Charlie Baker. You know, Charlie Baker, the tall Republican guy? Yeah, that guy. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine has the interesting details.


House approves crackdown on local pot-shop agreements

This was expected, but it’s still important. Steph Solis at MassLive reports that the Massachusetts House has indeed approved legislation giving authority to the Cannabis Control Commission to regulate local “community host agreements” with pot shops, pacts that more than a few people say resemble outright shakedowns.


As state tax collections soar, committee advances $18B transportation bill (without TCI provision)

State tax collections last month were humming along nicely, thank you, running 6.2 percent higher than a year ago and helping to grow a potential budget cushion for the state, reports SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall).

Meanwhile, a legislative committee has advanced Gov. Charlie Baker’s $18 billion transportation bonding bill, but House members dropped a portion of the plan that would have earmarked money to the T from future Transportation Climate Initiative revenues. Why? Because the controversial TCI doesn’t exist yet – and may not exist for a good long while. SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) has more.

Green light: Committee approves giving undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses

From Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magagine “A controversial bill that would create a way for undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts to get driver’s licenses made it out of committee on Wednesday, the first step on a long path to becoming law. The House Transportation Committee approved the Work and Family Mobility Act.”

The vote came after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh penned an opinion piece at WBUR calling for immigrants to get driver’s licenses, saying the issue is about public safety.


Prosecutors: DNA test clears man of double-murder nearly 30 years ago

This leaves you shaking your head. From CBS Boston: “Prosecutors say new DNA evidence clears a man convicted of a double murder in Roxbury nearly 30 years ago. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office agreed with the defense that Ronnie Qualls was wrongly charged in the 1992 murders and that Qualls should be released from prison. The Boston College Innocence Program took up the case in 2017.” Next step: A judge will review the release request.

CBS Boston

Meanwhile, convicted rapist Benjamin LaGuer released on medical parole

Speaking of prison releases, the AP’s Mark Pratt at WBUR reports that Benjamin LaGuer, a convicted rapist whose controversial case has won high-profile support for his release, is now out of prison on medical parole. The Telegram’s David Dore reports that LaGuer, 56, who was first sentenced in 1984, was let go “after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.”


Clean Energy Center’s mission: Jobs or climate change?

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the quasi-public agency facing various financial woes, is rethinking its mission, from focusing on promoting clean-energy sector growth to fighting climate change. Katie Theoharides, the Baker administration’s top energy chief who chairs the center board, says the two missions are not mutually exclusive. 

Our question: Isn’t the new mission sort of what the departments of Environmental Protection and Energy Resources are supposed to be doing already? Just asking.

Boston Globe

‘Fans of dark-ages medicine rally at the State House’

OK, the headline is a cheap shot, sort of. Still, the indispensable Universal Hub reports, in its own unique way, on an anti-vaccination protest held at the State House earlier this week, as first reported by BU’s Daily Free Press.

Universal Hub

Company accuses BPS of misusing exam-school tests to detriment of minorities

From Michael Jonas at CommonWealth magazine: “The company responsible for the test used to determine admission to Boston’s three exam schools says it will no longer make the test available to the district because it was being misused in ways that might be contributing to lower acceptance rates for minority students at the selective-admission schools.”

But … wait … the BPS says it was already planning to dump the ISEE exam before the company announced it was dumping the BPS, as Universal Hub reports, which describes the dispute thusly: “You can’t quit me! I quit you first!” The Globe’s Meghan Irons and Bianca Vazquez Toness have more on the exam dispute.


Report: Globe to hike some home subscription rates to $1,295 a year

Are they trying to put themselves out of business? From the BBJ’s Don Seiffert: “The Boston Globe is hiking rates for some of its dwindling number of weekday print subscribers up to $24.90 a week later this year, for an annual cost of $1,295. The Globe sent emails to some subscribers last week announcing the new rate.”

We’re rooting for them and know they need money but … yikes.


NDA bill? What NDA bill?

So much for former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson’s clout. Despite calls by Carlson and other women to ban non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases, a Beacon Hill committee earlier this week quietly dispatched NDA-related legislation “to study,” reports the Herald’s Mary Markos. And who knows when it will come out of “study.”

Boston Herald

‘Rogue deal’: Emails detail how Methuen police contract got so expensive

Did they go rogue? Methuen City Council President James McCarthy says a cache of emails released by the city show that some members of the team negotiating a new contract for police superior officers in 2017 continued to tweak the deal without buy-in from all members, helping to sow the confusion that led to the council unknowingly approving 200 percent pay raises, Bill Kirk reports at the Eagle-Tribune.

Eagle Tribune

Fundraising fracas: Neal, Morse spin reports in different directions

The numbers are what they are. But what they mean is entirely in the eye of the beholder. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and his Democratic primary challenger Alex Morse are trading barbs in the wake of year-end fundraising reports, reports Dusty Christensen at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.


Entry of first-timer sets up Democratic primary for O’Connell seat

He’s a political novice, but he thinks that might be a good thing. Easton resident Muzammil “Muzi” Nazir says he’ll seek the Democratic nod in the upcoming special election to fill the 3rd Bristol district seat previously held by now Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell. Nazir, who runs a hybrid-vehicle rental company, says he’ll make transportation a key issue ahead of his March 3 primary faceoff against Taunton school board member Carol Doherty. 

Taunton Gazette

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


City Councilor Andrea Cabral: Boston needs more diversity in fire, police ranks – Boston Herald

Affordability in question at King’s Lynne apartments – Lynn Item


Fall River police facing lawsuit in main’s stun gun death – Herald-News

New Plymouth company proposes to make marijuana deliveries – Patriot Ledger

Cirque de Soleil not coming to Provincetown – Cape Cod Times


Trump fans flooded Iowa caucus hotline, Democrats say – Bloomberg News

Biden campaign agonizes over Iowa shellacking – Politico

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