Happening Today:

8 a.m. | Quinsigamond Community College hosts a local Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast, featuring a keynote address from U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins.

9 a.m. | 53rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Gov. Maura Healey is among those expected to speak. Jelani Cobb, a writer for The New Yorker and dean of the Columbia Journalism School, is the keynote speaker.

10 a.m. | U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark makes a series of stops to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day starting at Malden City Hall followed by visits to Melrose and West Medford.

12 p.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu gives remarks at the City of Boston and Boston University's annual celebration of the lives and legacies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King at Boston University's Metcalf Hall.

3:45 p.m. | Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll joins volunteers for an MLK Jr. Day of Service event serving meals to homeless veterans at the New England Center and Home for Veterans.

It’s MLK Day. But as the celebrations continue today after Friday’s unveiling of the “The Embrace” on Boston Common, the statue’s debut has been greeted by some pretty harsh coverage nationally.

Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz just won a sixth term as the top prosecutor on the South Shore, bucking a trend seen across Massachusetts where the GOP lost ground at all levels of government.

The Republican did it by fending off a challenge from a progressive Democrat – the ACLU’s Rahsaan Hall – in a district that is among the most conservative in Massachusetts. But he also believes there’s more to it than luck and geography.

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“I think the DAs position is a little bit different,” Cruz told WVCB’s Ed Harding during an appearance on “On the Record.” “I think people that want to be safe in their homes, secure on the streets are looking for that person. They’re not looking to see if you’re a Democrat or Republican.”

“Can that person do the job, and does that person have the right philosophy going forward. How’s he going to help me protect me, protect my kids. That’s what people really want,” he continued.

Cruz said it was “too bad” that former Gov. Charlie Baker decided not to seek a third term, but after the GOP took a drubbing at the polls Cruz said it was time for new leadership at the MassGOP.

“You can’t fire the team. That means you have to get rid of the manager,” Cruz said, telling Harding he believes Republicans can be successful if they get “better people involved to run for office with conservative values.”

After a Democrat won the open district attorney race on Cape Cod, Cruz is the only Republican DA in Massachusetts right now. But he said he does not believe that means people have embraced the progressive approach to prosecution employed by people like former Suffolk DA and now U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins.

Cruz pointed to losses by progressive district attorney candidates from his own race to the Berkshires and Suffolk County.

“It’s not just Plymouth County, it’s across the state where I believe the people don’t believe in that sort of philosophy of defund the police, abolish the police, have a list of cases you don’t prosecute, no cash bail, no life for people who commit first-degree homicide, Cruz said. “I think most people don’t believe in that because it doesn’t work and when you look at the numbers across America it’s proven it doesn’t work.”

Cruz said he would not support former President Donald Trump in 2024 if he becomes the GOP nominee for the White House again. He also voiced support for updates to the state’s wiretapping laws, including the addition of a provision to allow audio tapes recorded by women who are being threatened in domestic situations to be used by prosecutors regardless of whether the other party gave consent to be recorded.

And as for his own political future, Cruz said “probably not” to the idea he might one day seek a different office.

“I’ve never looked at this job as a stepping stone to something else,” Cruz said.

— Springfield subway car factory a “toxic environment”

This dispiriting look inside the CRRC railcar factory in Springfield describes a problem for the MBTA that goes beyond just delays in the delivery of new Red and Orange Line subway cars. The Globe’s Taylor Dolven writes how supply chain issues are just part of the issue at the factory where lax procedures and unhappy workers are contributing to problems with trains after they’ve been put into service. “It’s a toxic environment,” said one former employee.

The Boston Globe

— Are party politics dying in Massachusetts?

With a lot of headlines on the dysfunction within the Massachusetts Republican Party commanding attention, this look across the aisle at the Democrats makes some interesting observations about why party politics, not just GOP party politics, might be dying in Massachusetts. Brockton-based political consultant Greg Maynard explains how running outside the system has become the new norm as party membership has declined and activists that don’t necessarily represent the mainstream views of the electorate have taken over party politics.

CommonWealth Magazine

— Healey pressured to walk the walk on equity and inclusion

Gov. Healey has been slow and deliberate in building out her senior team. But with a number of positions still unfilled and a pledge of diversity put on the table by Healey herself, the staffing choices are being judged not just on the level of expertise being brought in, but also whether they pass Healey’s own equity test. The Globe’s Samantha Gross writes that pressure is building in some corners for Healey to name a Latino person to a prominent position within her Cabinet, despite members of the community already being tapped for several senior roles in the new administration.

The Boston Globe

— Velis pledges “deep-dive” after IG report on soldier’s home

State Sen. John Velis, a service member and outspoken advocate on Beacon Hill for veterans, is amplifying a new report from the Inspector General’s office that offers a scathing review of conditions in the Chelsea Soldier’s Home. The Springfield Republican’s Stephanie Barry reports on how Velis is getting involved and what it means for the new legislative session getting underway.

MassLive

— Wu’s challenge delivering on police reform

The Globe’s Emma Platoff and Danny McDonald look at what it’s going to take for Boston Mayor Michelle Wu to deliver on police reform as contract talks with the city’s police patrolmen’s union drag on and become more contentious.

The Boston Globe

— Amherst resident seeks to crowdsource records request payment

An Amherst resident hoping to see what officials were saying behind the scenes about a high-profile clash between local police and a group of teenagers last summer is now turning to crowdsourcing to defray the costs of obtaining the records. Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports Vira Douangmany Cage has raised $600 to get emails and texts the town council president may have exchanged with police department leadership.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

— New Bedford council scales back controversial pay hikes

Facing public outcry, the New Bedford City Council has undone its earlier approval of sweeping pay raises that would have boosted some department head salaries by as much as 60 percent, instead approving a new salary schedule that caps the biggest bumps at 25 percent. Arthur Hirsch of The New Bedford Light has the details on the course reversal.

New Bedford Light

— Slow recovery: RTA ridership lagging pre-pandemic levels

Ridership on the state’s 15 regional transit authorities remains well below pre-pandemic levels, the state Department of Transportation says, even as many of the agencies offer free rides to lure back commuters. Christian Wade of the Salem News reports ridership levels were 35 percent below 2019 levels during the last fiscal year and many of the authorities are relying on soon-to-run-out federal relief funds to balance their books.

The Salem News

— Batista talks priorities, value of a former mayor as LG

Newly minted Worcester City Manager Eric Batista sat down with MassLive’s Kiernan Dunlop to lay out his goals and promised to focus on housing, homelessness and diversity as he digs into the job full time. Batista also said he’s confident Worcester will benefit from having a lieutenant governor who recently ran a city herself and saw the challenges municipalities face first-hand.

MassLive

MORE HEADLINES:

Metro

Cambridge officials have always wanted body cameras for police, so why don’t police have them? – MassLive

Five Harvard Grads Among Newly Elected Members of 118th Congress – The Harvard Crimson

Boston buses still rolling in late for school – Boston Herald

Massachusetts

Drag queen event at Taunton library disrupted by apparent neo-Nazi protesters – Taunton Daily Gazette

Nantucket Extends “Safe Harbor” From 40B Developments – Nantucket Current

National

Democrats worry Biden controversy will be Clinton emails repeat – The Hill

New details link George Santos to cousin of sanctioned Russian oligarch – The Washington Post

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