Happening Today

7:50 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu speaks at the East Boston YMCA Annual Reach Out for Youth Breakfast at Hilton Boston Logan Airport.

10:30.....U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh visits Boston with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to meet students training for careers in new technologies at Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology and to discuss the Biden administration's plans.

11 a.m. | U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren presides over U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in Boston's JFK Federal Building to explore the economic impacts of insufficient maintenance, lackluster oversight and management failures at the MBTA. Federal Transit Administration Administrator Nuria Fernandez, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and TransitMatters Director Jarred Johnson are among those expected to testify.

12:30 p.m. | Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl holds a media availability at the Shortstop Bar & Grill in Westfield before a business roundtable event Congressional candidate Dean Martilli.

3 p.m. | UMass Dartmouth holds an inauguration ceremony for Chancellor Mark Fuller. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, UMass Board of Trustees Chair Stephen Karam and UMass President Marty Meehan will make remarks.

The ballot campaign to reform the state’s liquor license laws had been shaping up to be a one-sided affair. Not anymore.

Total Wine & More, the big-box alcohol retailer headquartered in Maryland, has stepped up in the absence of opposition with more than $2.1 million in media spending to oppose Question 3. The ad campaign comes after the coalition of food stores organized in opposition to the ballot question and led by chains like Cumberland Farms said they were not going to put up a fight.

Massachusetts Fine Wines and Spirits, LLC, the local subsidiary of Total Wines, reported $2,107,366 in spending to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance on Oct. 5, and since then a television ad has popped up paid for by the company depicting Q3 as “a backroom deal that hurts consumers.”

The narrator in the 30-second spot contends that if passed the question the would “reduce alcohol licenses for family-owned businesses throughout the state,” while doubling licenses available to “select high-priced chains.”

“That means less service, selection and savings for you,” the narrator says.

Question 3 proposes to increase the combined number of licenses a retailer can hold for the sale of all alcoholic beverages and beer and wine from nine to18 by 2031, but will reduce the cap on licenses for the sale of all-alcoholic-beverage from nine to seven. It will also prohibit self check-out of alcoholic beverages, make out-of-state licenses an acceptable form of ID for alcohol purchasing, and change the formula under which fines for selling to minors are calculated.

Ironically, the question is backed by Massachusetts Package Stores Association, which actually represents many of the small, family-owned alcohol retailers in Massachusetts. While Total Wine & More is family owned, the out-of-state corporation currently operates 243 stores in 27 states.

“Everyone is entitled to voice their opinion on ballot questions, but they are not entitled to lie and obfuscate. This ad is funded by Total Wine, though it is pretending to be from small businesses. It goes on to claim Question 3 hurts consumers, which is demonstrably false,” said Rob Mellion, executive director of the Massachusetts Package Store Association.

The license reform proposal was pitched to the Legislature and put on the ballot by the package stores owners as an attempt at compromise with larger food stores that wanted to see the retail cap on alcohol licenses lifted completely with a new category of license created for food stores.

Though a coalition called Food Stores for Consumer Choice organized against Question 3, it has not raised any money and it’s attorney Louis Rizoli told MASSterList last month, “There’s no coordinated opposition to this ballot question. Some food stores like certain provisions of question three and oppose others.”

AUDITOR’S RACE WEEKEND: Turn on your TV this weekend and you could be treated to a healthy primer on the race for auditor. Democrat Diana DiZoglio and Republican Anthony Amore have already taped a mini-debate to air on WBZ-TV Sunday and DiZoglio is the guest on WCVB’s On the Record Sunday morning as well.

Then there’s the ads. The Commonwealth for All super PAC reported Thursday that it had raised $201,500 since Sept. 7 from the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the National Association of Government Employees and spent $180,000 on digital advertising in support of DiZoglio.

Without outside spending, the money race between the two candidates coming into October looked pretty close. DiZoglio had $35,430 in cash on hand to Amore’s $26,714.

— About Healey’s minimum wage claim

During her debate Wednesday night against Geoff Diehl, Attorney General Maura Healey claimed the Republican wanted to do away with the minimum wage. It was part of her effort to paint Diehl as an extremist out of step with the Massachusetts electorate. But as the Globe’s Matt Stout reports, touching the minimum wage, which is on its way to $15 an hour here, has not made it into any of Diehl’s policy platforms or speeches. Diehl and his campaign wiped the accusation aside as “ridiculous and baseless,” but, as Stout reports, Healey’s charge did not come out of thin air. Diehl actually proposed during his time in the House eliminating the state’s minimum wage as an amendment to a bill he opposed in 2014 hiking the wage floor from $8 to $11 an hour. Instead, Diehl proposed adopting the federal minimum standard, which was and still is $7.25.

The Boston Globe

— MORE FROM THE TRAIL, the Globe’s Samantha J. Gross was with Healey as she made a swing through Northampton yesterday. MassLive’s Will Katcher also reports on how the visit was a chance for lawmakers and business owners to make their case for western Massachusetts to get its fair share.

— Underfunded local mandates tally up to $1.2 billion

The state is seemingly awash in cash, with the hardest question facing lawmakers being how to spend the spoils. But Auditor Suzanne Bump reported Thursday that the state has underfunded a series of local mandates on cities and towns to the tune of $1.2 billion, with special education and school transportation presenting the biggest shortfalls. CommonWealth Magazine’s Shira Schoenberg has more from Bump’s report, which arrives amid a pitched debate over whether to increase taxes on the wealthy to help pay for education and transportation needs.

CommonWealth Magazine

— Arrival of migrants not a new story in Massachusetts

Florida Gov. Ron Santis’s politically calculated move to send migrants to Massachusetts captured headlines, but the Globe’s Mike Damiano reports that the arrival of migrants here and other places in the northeast seeking refuge from their home countries is nothing new. And the volume of people arriving has put a strain on available resources to support them, according to advocates.

The Boston Globe

— Immigration slowdown hurting hiring in key sectors

On the legal immigration front, GBH’s Kirk Carapezza reports that business leaders are worried a slowdown in international immigration will continue to make it difficult to meet the hiring needs in health care, IT and other fields. MassINC projects a 10 percent decrease in the number of skilled workers in Massachusetts by the year 2030 and decades of growth. Industry leaders are looking to Congress to increase the numbers of available visas for skilled international workers to come to the United States and fill jobs.

GBH News

— O’Brien’s former ties to pot company hold up license

The Cannabis Control Commission declined to approve a license for a cultivation company – Greenfield Greenery –  previously owned by new CCC Chair Shannon O’Brien, questioning why the change-of-ownership paperwork had not been properly and timely handled. O’Brien recused herself from the deliberations, as she promised she would, but CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports that commissioners still have questions and sent it back to staff for further investigation. O’Brien says she gave up her stake in the company last year before being hired as the new chair of the commission.

CommonWealth Magazine

— Reduced fares would impact more at lower cost, MBTA finds

With the MBTA looking for ways to increase ridership and improve mobility for low-income riders, the Herald’s Gayla Cawley reports that staff has produced cost estimates for two options under consideration. Half-price fares for low-income riders across the system would help more users and costs less than making buses free, the MBTA determined. Cawley writes that a means-tested fare option would cost the T between $46 million and $58 million, but the cost to make all buses free would run between $94 million and  $141 million. No decisions have been made, but Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has been among the most vocal proponents of free buses.

Boston Herald

— Running for office when you already have a job

Being an elected official offers you a bit of, let’s say, job flexibility when it comes to carving out time to campaign for reelection or seek another public office. That’s not the case for Anthony Amore, the head of security at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, who is running for state auditor and trying to balance the rigors of a campaign against a sitting state senator with the demands of his day job. CommonWealth Magazine’s Bruce Mohl has more on what it’s like to balance work and campaign life.

— Also, the Globe’s Alexander Thompson reports on the debate Thursday between Amore and DiZoglio, which airs Sunday on WBZ-TV.

— Self-proclaimed Marblehead ‘monk’ and charged with COVID fraud

Federal authorities have charged a Marblehead man who calls himself a monk and his partner and attorney with illegally obtaining $3.6 million worth of pandemic relief funds and spending much of them on personal perks such as club memberships and a $40,000 wristwatch. Julie Manganis of the Salem News has all the details.

The Salem News

— Worcester council rejects request to rename Plantation streets 

A divided Worcester City Council has voted against taking up a request from the UMass Chan Medical School to change the name of Plantation Street near the campus and other roads with the same name. Brad Kane of the Worcester Business Journal reports the council voted 6-4 to maintain the status quo, with those opposing the change saying it would cause disruption and unnecessary expense for residents and businesses.

Worcester Business Journal

— Lakeville Senate candidate charged with open and gross lewdness

Republican state senate candidate Russell T. Protentis has been charged with open and gross lewdness after a woman claimed he exposed himself to her while swimming at a Hanson YMCA back in July. Frank Mulligan of the Herald News reports Protentis, who is challenging state Sen. Michael Rodrigues, has told police he was at the Y during the time in question but otherwise denied the claims.

The Herald News

— Harvard endowment down more than $2 billion

It’s not just your 401(k). Harvard University says its endowment suffered investment losses for the first time since 2016, losing $2.3 billion worth of value during fiscal year 2022. Eric Yan of the Crimson reports that just one year after gaining an eye-popping 33 percent in 2021, the endowment suffered a 1.8 percent loss on investments and is now worth $50.9 billion.

The Harvard Crimson

The Talk Shows

FRIDAY

Talking Politics, GBH 2, 7 p.m.: GBH political reporter Adam Reilly talks with former MassGOP Chair Jennifer Nassour and Politico’s Lisa Kashinsky about Anthony Amore’s campaign for auditor and whether Republicans like Amore, running as fiscal conservatives and social moderates open to bipartisanship, still have a place in Massachusetts and the MassGOP. Plus, GBH reporter Saraya Wintersmith interviews former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. 

SUNDAY

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m.: MASSterList columnist and WBZ political analyst Jon Keller hosts a debate, taped on Thursday, between the two candidates for running to succeed Suzanne Bump as state auditor – Democratic Sen. Diana DiZoglio and Republican Anthony Amore.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m.: Democratic nominee for auditor Sen. Diana DiZoglio is the guest with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu. DiZoglio’s interview will be followed by a political roundtable discussion with Democratic political analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican political analyst Lizzy Guyton.

Metro

Why the city helped fund a $47 million real estate deal in East Boston – Boston.com

Superintendent Mary Skipper sets priorities for school year – The Boston Globe

Massachusetts

DA candidates for Cape & Islands meet at forum. Here’s where they stand on the issues – Cape Cod Times

Vineyard attorney travels to Texas to help migrants – Martha’s Vineyard Times

Midwife-led birth center in Beverly has seen its last patient, staff say – GBH News

National

Supreme Court rejects Trump request on Mar-a-Lago documents – The Washington Post

Final Wisconsin senate debate gets ugly – Politico

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Keith Regan is a freelance writer and local news junkie who has been on the MASSterList morning beat since the newsletter’s earliest days. A graduate of Northeastern University and Emerson College, Regan lives in Hopkinton with his wife, Lisa.