Happening Today:

* Gov. Charlie Baker returns to Massachusetts tonight from Las Vegas where he spent the weekend. Baker was in attendance to personally witness the Patriot's embarrassing 30-24 last-second loss to the Raiders.

10 a.m. | Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets to continue reviewing applications for sports betting licenses.

11 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu makes her monthly appearance on WBUR's "Radio Boston" show.

12:30 | Mayor Wu hosts a press conference to announce a $14.5 million grant secured by New England Conservatory to expand music education for Boston students.

1 p.m. | Joint Committee on Mental Health's Behavioral Health Commission holds a virtual hearing to discuss health equity.

2 p.m. | The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's Special Committee on Pandemic Recovery and Literacy holds its first meeting.

Did you wake up still scratching your head at that Patriots loss yesterday? Me too. At least the World Cup final was more entertaining.

While Argentina and Lionel Messi were on their way to World Cup glory Sunday morning, Gov.-elect Maura Healey shared some insight, or at least thoughts, on the state of her transition and how she plans to begin her tenure as governor.

Healey, a guest on WCVB’s “On the Record,” said “affordability” would be her top priority as she takes office, which she said means not only tax relief and reform, but investing available funds to lower the cost of things like housing.

“We’re about driving production around the state through a secretary of housing, through more dense housing, particularly around our transportation hubs,” Healey said.

The Democrat also said her housing strategy will feature the use of state lands for development, a streamlined permitting process to make it “easier for developers to do what they need to do” and an investment of public funds in the rehabilitation and preservation of existing housing.

Healey has not yet named someone to take on the task of leading her administration’s housing efforts as secretary. In fact, so far she’s only named a budget secretary and a secretary of education.

More announcements on personnel could be coming this week, but Healey said not to expect her to have someone ready to take over the MBTA on a full-time basis when she’s sworn in at the TD Garden on Jan. 5. MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak is stepping down in the new year.

“I expect there to be an interim GM for some time, and then there will be a GM,” Healey explained, saying her transition team is in the midst of a search for a new transit chief.

Healey was also asked about Secretary of State William Galvin’s call for the governor and Legislature to create a carve out from the voter-approved “millionaire’s tax” for long-time, senior homeowners on income from the sale of a primary residence.

Healey only said “all of these ideas are important,” and pledged to engage with Galvin and lawmakers as the new law is implemented. She was not asked about Galvin’s other request to segregate the money collected through the wealth surtax in a separate fund so that its use can be easily tracked, but she did vow to spend it in accordance with the spirit of the ballot question.

“Obviously the will of the voters needs to be respected, and I want to make sure as governor that I am doing everything I can to ensure that that money, as the voters wanted, is going to be used for education, transportation and infrastructure investments,” Healey said.

Other things we might have learned from Healey’s interview?

  • She would “probably not” support a gas tax holiday if prices spike again
  • She’s not jealous of Gov. Charlie Baker’s new gig leading the NCAA
  • And she intends to keep up Baker’s practice of using a “hideaway” office in the executive suite day-to-day instead of the large ceremonial governor’s office used and refurbished by former Gov. Deval Patrick.

This was Janet Wu’s final show as host of “On the Record” as she heads into retirement and ends a legendary career in broadcast journalism. For all her professional and personal words of advice and encouragement over the years, as well as her unflinching journalism, I and the team at MASSterList will miss her and wish her well.

— The price of convenience in the food industry

Is the convenience of a fried chicken sandwich delivered to your door worth the traffic and emissions. The Globe’s Anissa Gardizy looks at how food delivery services – a lifeline to restaurants during the pandemic – are now creating headaches for business owners, pedestrians and drivers in already-congested downtown areas and what might be done about it.

The Boston Globe

— New education secretary has challenging, early to-do list

As we mentioned earlier, secretary of education is one of the few senior positions Healey has filled so far in her incoming administration. The Democrat announced on Friday that she had picked former Lynn Superintendent Patrick Tutwiler to replace Jim Peyser as leader of the state’s public education system, lauding his background and diverse professional experiences. WBUR’s Carrie Jung has more on Tutwiler’s resume, but Healey opened up Sunday about what she hopes to see Tutwiler tackle as secretary, starting with the recruitment of a more diverse pool of K-12 teachers. Healey also said she’s spoken with Tutwiler about the need to drive participation in early college programs, the modernization of school buildings, and her focus on wrap-around services. “The mental health needs of our students has probably never been greater,” Healey said.


— Pot potency “regularly inflated” on cannabis labels

Don’t believe the labels. That’s the takeaway from an interesting investigation published over the the weekend by CommonWealth Magazine about whether cannabis consumers are getting what they pay for. CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports that labels often overstate the potency of the pot on sale in the state’s recreational marijuana dispensaries, and the cannabis cleared for use by private testing labs sometimes contains chemicals, mold and other substances that should have kept the product off the shelves. As Schoenberg writes, there are reasons why potency and other tests may be inaccurate, including pot’s short shelf life. But the bottom line is what you see is not always what you get.

CommonWealth Magazine

— Major wind project developer tries to pull out of contracts

The developer behind one of the state’s major offshore wind projects – Commonwealth Wind – asked regulators on Friday to scrap the contract it had agreed to with utilities, capping months of back-and-forth over the viability of the project. Avangrid said the prices agreed to in the contract are no longer viable to secure the financing needed to build the wind farm. State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reports that Avangrid hopes to resubmit a bid in the new year with updated pricing if the state reopens the procurement process, but the development is a significant blow to the state’s clean energy goals after an intense debate in the Legislature this year over price caps. The Department of Public Utilities and the Baker administration has previously said it was not interested in cancelling the contracts and reopening the bidding process.

State House News Service

— Kennedy’s Ireland posting “imminent,” according to report

Following a report from the online outlet IrishCentral that Joseph Kennedy III was the favorite to land a diplomatic posting to Northern Ireland, Politico reported late last week that an announcement of Kennedy as special envoy to Northern Ireland was “imminent” from the Biden administration. Such an appointment would put Kennedy back in the game after his political career hit a serious speed bump when he decided to challenge U.S. Sen. Edward Markey in a Democratic primary and lost. As Massachusetts waits for the news to become official, the Globe’s John Hilliard has some local reaction.

Politico | The Boston Globe

— “Brujas” had Messi’s back

This one has nothing to do with Massachusetts politics or policy. It’s just fun. And it was written by Jack Nicas, my former Boston University State House intern back when I was bureau chief for The Sun. So if you spent any time this past month watching the World Cup and Argentina’s run through the tournament, enjoy this look at how superstar Lionel Messi may have had witches from his home country to thank. Yes, witches.

The New York Times

— OCPF tags super PAC for invites using governor’s name

The Baker-aligned Massachusetts Majority super PAC purged $17,500 in donations after campaign finance regulators said the organization violated state coordination laws by using Gov. Baker’s name to raise funds for its 2022 election spending. The super PAC led by a central Massachusetts developer and Baker donor spent heavily this cycle on down-ballot races, as well as in support of Republican candidate for auditor Anthony Amore – the only statewide candidate Baker backed this year. The Globe’s Matt Stout reports that an email invitation to a July fundraiser at the UMass Club on Beacon Hill advertised Baker’s attendance as a special guest, in violation of campaign finance rules. The super PAC’s leaders disagree that the invitation breached any laws, but found it easier to give up the money it raised from the event than fight.

The Boston Globe

— Feds probing Worcester police urged to look at prostitution

The investigation launched last month into the Worcester Police Department by the U.S. Department of Justice could include a look at how local cops interacted with women accused of prostitution, Brad Petrishen of the Telegram reports. A local nonprofit says it contacted the DOJ directly after being unsatisfied with the local department’s response to accusations that an officer forced women to perform sex acts in order to avoid arrest.

Telegram & Gazette

— Somerville residents petition to delete jaywalking ban

Somerville’s Traffic Board could vote this week to erase part of a longstanding ordinance against jaywalking after a petition from residents urged the city to “restore some rights to pedestrians” by allowing them to cross without using a crosswalk when it is safe to do so. Cambridge Day’s Marc Levy has the details.

Cambridge Day

— Attleboro-area election shows many voters still fumble mail ballots 

City and town clerks in the Attleboro area tell George Rhodes of the Sun Chronicle that the results of 2022 midterms show a need for more or better voter-education after hundreds of mail ballots went uncounted due to a host of procedural mistakes, only some of which were able to be corrected in time. Overall, 3 percent of mail-in ballots in the region were disqualified. Secretary of State William Galvin recently said in an interview that the majority of mail-in ballots that were disqualified this cycle were either returned unsigned or arrived too late to be counted, despite a three-day grace period for late ballots to arrive post-Election Day.

The Sun Chronicle

— Challenges mount in health care

Two rather sobering headlines in the Boston Globe this weekend. First, Jessica Bartlett reported Friday night that hospitals – a lifeblood of the state’s economy – reported record losses in 2022. This was followed up with Sunday’s lede story about how labor shortages are pushing the state’s nursing homes to the brink.

— Coyote-hunting plan draws protests in Nahant

A plan to use federal sharpshooters to reduce the population of coyotes in Nahant is getting pushback from some residents who rallied over the weekend in the hopes of drawing attention to an alternative plan to address public safety concerns. The Item’s Ryan Vermette reports the group is asking the Select Board to allow a coyote expert to work on the problem for a week before allowing the hunting to commence.

The Daily Item



Quincy officials, teachers’ union clash amid stalled contract talks – The Patriot Ledger

More big development could soon land alongside the BCEC – The Boston Globe

Harvard unveils conference center as ‘front door’ to new Allston complex – Boston Business Journal


Mass. flavored smoke ban fuels cross-border smuggling – The Salem News

Analysis of Chicopee Schools’ MCAS scores show it will take 3-5 years to recover from COVID-disrupted learning – MassLive

One year after St. Vincent nurses strike ends, tension between union, management remains – Telegram & Gazette


Trump Faces a Week of Headaches on Jan. 6 and His Taxes – The New York Times

Kari Lake calls for imprisoning Maricopa County election officials – The Hill

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