9 a.m. | Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joins state and local officials at the Marine Corps League in Worcester to announce upgrades to the Lake Quinsigamond pumping stations.
11:30 a.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker joins U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo for a rescheduled visit to 6K's headquarters in North Andover.
The rain and wind from Winter Storm Elliott have arrived, making a mess of travel two days before Christmas as hundreds of flights around the country, including dozens in and out of Logan, have already been cancelled.
While Massachusetts is expected to be spared the snow, heavy rains and strong winds will pummel the state throughout the day before giving way to a deep freeze for Christmas. Be safe out there.
GONNEVILLE RETURNS: Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday that MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville would step into the role of interim general manager of the embattled transit system on Jan. 4 when Steve Poftak steps down.
Gonneville was the obvious choice for interim GM (and maybe GM?) for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because he’s done it before. Gonneville previously held the title in 2018 when he filled in after former General Manager Luis Ramirez was pushed aside.
The experienced T official will give Gov.-elect Maura Healey some time to find a permanent replacement for Poftak. After announcing that she had retained Krauthamer & Associates to conduct a worldwide search for the next MBTA leader, the Democrat said this week she hoped it would be a matter of weeks, not months, before a suitable replacement could be hired.
But what, exactly, is Healey looking for? The governor-elect has said the next GM should be someone who has “transit experience, they’re going to have operations experience, and they’re going to understand that right now, we’ve got a real workforce challenge when it comes to the T.”
With that in mind, let’s look at where the last 10 general managers have been found:
- Daniel Grabauskas (2005-2009): Having worked within state government for years, former Gov. Mitt Romney moved Grabauskas from transportation secretary to MBTA GM in 2005. He held the job until 2009 when then-Gov. Deval Patrick forced him out.
- Richard Davey (2010-2011): Patrick took Davey from the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad and asked him to run the T, before elevating him to secretary for transportation.
- Jonathan Davis (2011-2012): A long-time T finance officials filled in after Davey moved into the Patrick Cabinet.
- Beverly Scott: (2012-2015): A nationwide search initiated by Patrick netted Beverly Scott, who came from the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. Scott abruptly quit about a month into Gov. Baker’s first term as a series of blizzards rocked the transit system.
- Frank DePaola (2015-2016): DePaola immediately took over the T. His background was as an engineer with the MBTA.
- Brian Shortsleeve (2016-2017): When DePaola stepped down to focus on his health, Shortsleeve stepped in. Shortsleeve had a executive management background from years with Bain Capital and other executive consulting firms, and was a member of the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board.
- Poftak (2017): The next in a series of short-term moves, Poftak took over as GM when Shortsleeve returned to the private sector. He was also a member of the oversight board.
- Luis Ramirez (2017-2018): Another nationwide search landed Luis Ramirez, an executive from an energy-services company in Texas. While he had not direct transit experience, he had overseen infrastructure projects during his career. He lasted only a year.
- Gonneville (2018): Fill-in
- Poftak (2019-present): Baker eventually would turn back to Poftak, who had been the executive director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston and someone who had been thinking and writing about transportation for much of his career.
Happy holidays. We’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday, Dec. 27
— Polar Park builder agrees hefty fine over diversity contracting
The builder of Worcester’s Polar Park – Gilbane/Hunt – agreed to pay $1.9 million to resolve allegations that it misled city officials about the level of participation of minority-owned construction firms in the project. The diversity goals were established as part of the developers contract to build the minor league baseball stadium, but during the construction Gilbane/Hunt is said to have misrepresented the amount of work it subcontracted to minority-owned firms. The investigation by the Attorney General’s office was prompted by reporting from Paul Singer and GBH News, who found discrepancies in what the developer was telling the city. The settlement includes a pledge of $500,000 from the payout to boost the number of women- and minority-owned businesses receiving government contracts. Singer has more on the settlement and how it came about.
— Mirra asks court to order review of ballots after one-vote loss
With less than two weeks until the start of the new Legislative session, Rep. Lenny Mirra, a Georgetown Republican, has turned to the courts to try to keep his seat, asking a judge to order a review of ballots in Georgetown, Ipswich and Rowley that the incumbent believes were wrongly not counted for him. Mirra, who was running for reelection in a redrawn district on the North Shore, lost to Democrat Kristin Kassner after a recount by just one vote. He has gone into the recount with a 10-vote advantage, and believes mistakes made by election officials during the process turned the tide. The Globe’s Matt Stout reports, for instance, that in one case a voter wrote in Donald Trump “mistakenly” before filling in the oval next to his name. In other instances, Mirra says the voter intent was clear even if the bubbles weren’t always perfectly filled in. Mirra loss was one of the low points for the GOP this cycle, but the Republican is hoping to hang on at least a little longer.
— Take a “Sleigh Ride” with a who’s who of Mass. politics
Need something to lift your holiday spirits. NBC10 political reporter Alison King is back with “Political Harmony” featuring all of the state’s heavy-hitters testing their vocal chords (and piano chops). This year’s song? Sleigh Ride. King also recalls how it all got started in 2006, and how it took the late Ted Kennedy’s willingness to put down his show tunes for some caroling to open the doors of other skeptical pols. Enjoy. Some of them don’t even sound that bad.
— Sports betting could go live in time for Super Bowl
Gaming regulators are eying a Jan. 31 launch of sports betting in Massachusetts, in time for the Super Bowl. With license reviews complete for in-person sports betting at the state’s two casinos and its slot parlor, the Herald’s Matthew Medsger reports that the Gaming Commission plans a “soft launch” of sports betting in late January before going live at the end of the month. Mobile betting is still on track for March.
— Wu and police could be headed to arbitration over contract
There will be no cup of good cheer served this year at the bargaining table between Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and the Boston Police Patrolman’s Association. The Globe’s Danny McDonald reports that the city’s largest police union has filed a request for arbitration, a move Wu calls “unfortunate.” Wu is looking to extract concessions from police on overtime and reforms to the way the department handles nonviolent calls and tracks police action by race, ethnicity and neighborhood. McDonald explains why this contract is an “acid test” for the young administration after promising police reform during her campaign. The mayor said she would prefer to remain at the bargaining table, but the union is seeking intervention from the state Joint Labor-Management Committee.
— No tax talk between Healey and House budget chief
After the two sat together at a Menorah lighting ceremony at the State House Wednesday evening, House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz told MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz that he has not yet had a formal conversation with the governor-elect about her plans for tax reform, which she has identified as a “day one” priority for her new administration. The North End Democrat said he has touched base with incoming budget secretary Matthew Gorzkowicz and looks forward to working with him. Healey is likely to make tax reform part of her first budget, which is not due until March 1, and has voiced support for some of the pieces that were first put on the table by Gov. Charlie Baker – like estate tax reform and increased rent deductions – but left out of a final bill approved late this year.
— Unopposed lawmakers still spent big on campaigns
The Eagle-Tribune’s Christian Wade digs into campaign finance reports and finds that many lawmakers who had no challengers in the 2022 election still spent tens of thousands of dollars on campaign-related activity over the past year. House Speaker Ron Mariano spent $260,000, Senate President Karen Spilka dropped $311,000 and House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz’s campaign fund doled out $226,000.
— Comerford pledges to try again on medical aid-in-dying bill
State Sen. Jo Comerford says she will once again introduce legislation to legalize physician-assisted suicide now that the Supreme Judicial Court has ruled the state Constitution does not offer doctors any protection if they help a patient die. Comerford tells the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Alexander MacDougall that her constituents support changing the law and that public opinion has shifted dramatically since voters shot down a referendum on the topic a decade ago.
— Worcester scrubs tweet that included boyfriend meme
A social media post that used the ‘distracted boyfriend’ meme to convince people to consider working for the city of Worcester was posted and then promptly scrubbed, the Telegram’s Veer Mudambi reports. The city later said the post was “insensitive” and that it would change its posting review process to avoid future mishaps.
The Talk Shows
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m.: MASSterList columnist and WBZ political analyst Jon Keller conducts an exit interview with Gov. Charlie Baker.
*The Sunday shows have been preempted by Christmas programming