10 a.m. | New Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox takes the oath of office at a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall Plaza.
11 a.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak, MassDOT Undersecretary Scott Bosworth and Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver discuss details on the planned Orange Line closure.
11 a.m. | Republican lieutenant governor candidates Leah Cole Allen and Kate Campanale, both former state representatives, meet for a debate hosted by WBUR, The Boston Globe and WCVB.
11 a.m. | House and Senate meet in informal sessions.
12 p.m. | Board of Elementary and Secondary Education convenes a special meeting to consider revision of MCAS requirements for future high school classes.
Inflation is the issue of the day, and the problem driving the 2022 campaign, as we all know. And…. we all could be wrong. A new poll from the MassINC Polling Group has a striking message for political analysts inclined to propagate the received wisdom about the mood of the electorate (not that MASSterList would ever be guilty of such a thing).
The survey, conducted for the Carpenters Union and a slate of labor-friendly, environmentally-aware developers under the advocacy umbrella Responsible Development Coalition, asked 854 likely voters (520 Democratic primary voters) what problem should be the priority on the minds and agenda of state legislators. The cost of living was number one, at 88 percent, but inflation came in number three. Second on the list was … housing costs, that old Massachusetts favorite.
To be sure, inflation was an extremely close third, with 81 percent of respondents saying inflation should be given “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of priority by policymakers, while 84 percent put inflation at the top of the list. Republican-identifying respondents put inflation well above housing costs, 91 percent to 79 percent. Still, 79 percent from Republicans, and the overall importance of housing compared the issue getting all the hype, underscores how central the problem is to Massachusetts residents, and why, after inflation cools, they’ll still be looking for leaders to take on the challenge of our perennially-overheated housing market.
The message seems to be, if you want to address the cost of living, address housing prices. And that’s one more reason for civic-minded types to be distressed about the failure of lawmakers to pass the sweeping economic-development-jobs bill at the end of formal sessions: MassINC (the think tank, not the polling arm) estimates it contains language that would have generated 12,000 new housing units and $4 billion in housing investment over 10 years. And THAT’s part of why that eco-devo bill is far from dead; merely… resting.
The coalition that commissioned the survey was interested in another bill that never crossed the finish line — legislation multiplying the penalties for wage theft, a perennial ambition of the unions. And the poll had quite fascinating results when the respondents were asked about rent control two different ways.
Full details and internals — not to be missed — are expected to be posted this morning at www.massinc.org and www.https://www.responsibledevelopmentcoalition.com.
— Healey’s first ad speaks to the aforementioned problems
With a touch of fall in the air this morning, presumed Democratic gubernatorial nominee Maura Healey brings a hint of autumn to our airwaves and devices this morning, releasing her first TV ad of the season. The cost of living forms the main message, and the cost of housing is right behind tax cuts on the list of semi-specifics Healey enumerates. Really, though, the spot is a generalized feel-good intro ad entitled “Teamwork” that inevitably has a shot of Healey playing basketball; she’s a winner “on the court and in the court,” we are told, and she pitches viewers, “Let’s do this together,” a la Deval Patrick’s “Together We Can.” The spot goes up for general public consumption tomorrow. The Herald plays Healey’s ad launch as coals to Newcastle, pointing out her 5-to-1 fundraising advantaging and her consistent 30 point lead over the GOP candidates.
— And the aforementioned AG doesn’t seem to care much for Trump
While the Healey campaign is spending freely to spread the reach of that first spot, the Globe is out with a story that might do just as much work for her cause, for free. Shelley Murphy and Andrea Estes chronicle Healy’s long track record of suing the Trump administration, a selling point in the Trump-loathing Bay State — she’s filed or joined more than 100 lawsuits against Donald Trump and his policies since 2016 . “The only states that sued Trump more often were New York, California, and Maryland,” the Globe reports, citing poli-sci professor Paul Nolette of Marquette University.
— Ed board to take up a question of standards
Over 100 state legislators wrote in opposition to the step the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is likely to vote on this afternoon. The Education Commissioner Jeff Riley wants to raise minimum scores on the high-stakes MCAS examination – so called because a passing score is a state requirement for all Massachusetts students Riley’s plan would hike that requirement to a 486 on the English exam, up from 470. The proposal has drawn vehement opposition from teacher’s unions and student-mental health advocates, while ganering some backing from business groups. The Globe’s Christopher Huffaker reports.
— Going there: Markey leads second legislative delegation to Taiwan
U.S. Sen. Edward Markey led a group of lawmakers on a visit to Taiwan over the weekend, a move that like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent trip, sparked an immediate response from China in the form of military exercises near the contested island nation. The Herald’s Rick Sobey reports Markey said the trip was intended to ““encourage stability and peace” in the region.
— Concerns remain as T releases plan for Orange Line shutdown
The MBTA on Friday released the details of its plan to offer alternative transportation options during the month-long shutdown of the Orange Line scheduled to begin at the end of this week, the Globe’s Taylor Dolven and Jeremy Fox report. The T is using a multi-modal approach that includes free Blue Bike rentals, chartered shuttle buses and more reliance on the commuter rail to move riders within the city limits. Although transit advocates are largely on board with the plan, the Herald’s Gayla Cawley reports some city leaders are upset that the shuttle-bus plan does not include stops in Chinatown or at the Tufts Medical Center.
— Spending spree: Tax-free weekend cheers retailers
Looks like it worked. The state’s sales tax-free weekend had shoppers packing stores across the Bay State. The Berkshire Eagle’s Matt Martinez reports one Pittsfield furniture store did a month’s worth of business over the two-day tax reprieve while Judee Consentino of the Sun-Chronicle reports Attleboro-area shops appeared to be especially busy on Saturday.
— Provincetown looks for fast rebound after ill-times ‘sewer emergency’
Officials in Provincetown over the weekend lifted a sewer emergency that shut down restaurants and other businesses for two days just as the annual LGBTQ celebration of Carnival Week was about to begin. The Cape Cod Times’ Asad Jung reports crowds were back downtown and local businesses expect patrons to return in droves for the stretch run of summer.
— Never forget: Recalling the fake-town hoax that fooled state legislators
For a short while, there were 352. The Globe’s Jon Gorey looks back at how a group of young scammers managed to get funding for the completely made-up town of Ripton, slipping the ruse past both chambers of the legislature and garnering the signature of Gov. Mike Dukakis before the scam was discovered two weeks later–before the funds were actually dispersed.
— “But, my mule likes the view from the second floor!”
With the news vibe sliding into “mid-August,” Heather Morrison of MassLive delivers the equivalent of a trashy novel perfect for the beach, in the form of a tour around some of the Commonwealth’s archaic or just plain puzzling statutes. So let’s get this straight: no law against revenge porn, but a law criminalizing the deliberate frightening of a pigeon. Huh.
— Hero K-9 joins PETA’s Tree of Life
Frankie, the first Mass. State Police K-9 killed in the line of duty last month, will receive a leaf on the Tree of Life, a standing memorial of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Herald reports. He was a nine-year veteran of the force who’d previously been decorated for valor and protect his fellow officers. He was killed in a standoff in Fitchburg July 26. Rick Sobey has details.
— Worcester Chamber of Commerce urges voters to nix CPA
The Worcester Chamber of Commerce has taken a position against the adoption of the Community Preservation Act in the city, saying municipal coffers stuffed with Covid relief funds and other revenue sources don’t need the additional 1.5 percent property tax surcharge right now. The Telegram’s Cyrus Moulton has the details.
— Shame offensive: Holyoke mayor takes trash fight to Facebook
Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia is taking his battle to get property owners to clean up trash spilling out of overflowing dumpsters–primarily in neighborhoods with mainly Hispanic residents–and is taking to social media to shame them into cleaning up their acts. The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Dusty Christensen got a first-hand look at the mayor’s approach during a tour of the city.
— Amid building boom, Framingham considers stricter affordable requirements
The city of Framingham could soon require apartment developers to include more affordable housing in their projects, Jesse Collings of the MetroWest Daily News reports. The current requirement of 10 percent affordable units could be increased to 15 percent with 5 percent set aside for residents with incomes well below the regional averages.