Happening Today

8:30 | Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy holds annual "Condition of Education in the Commonwealth" event, which is cast as a "state of the state" for the education sector | Omni Parker House, Boston

9:15. | Sen. Adam Gomez, Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, Springfield Mayor Sarno and Ray Bourque headline the launch of legal in-person sports betting at MGM Springfield | 1 MGM Way, Springfield

12:00 | Gov. Healey appears in person at GBH News' Boston Public Library studio for an "Ask The Governor" segment broadcast on "Boston Public Radio" with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan | WGBH BPL Studio

12:00 | Lt. Gov. Driscoll virtually attends the Citizens' Housing and Planning Association Policy Leadership Council Meeting

1:00 | Chelsea Soldiers' Home Board of Trustees meets. The agenda includes a "superintendent's report." | Trustees Conference Room, QMLTC Building, 100 Summit Ave., Chelsea

1:30 | Boston Mayor Wu appears in person at GBH News' Boston Public Library studio for an "Ask The Mayor" segment on "Boston Public Radio | WGBH BPL Studio

6:30 | Republican State Committee, which has 80 seats, meets to decide whether to reelect Jim Lyons or choose a new chair. A party spokesman said Friday that the other candidates include Amy Carnevale, Chris Lyon, Ron Vining, and Elizabeth Childs | Apex Center, Marlborough

It’s Jan. 31 — year-end finance reports for reps, senators, mayors and city council candidates (in bigger cities) were due Jan. 20, and are mostly in — not as big a deal as it once was at the state level since the advent of monthly auto-reporting, but those auto-reports are arriving too. So where’s the action in the recent influx of data at the Office of Campaign and Political Finance?

Greg Maynard, an accomplished and almost disturbingly knowledgeable consultant on municipal races, told us to Look Local at the start of this odd-numbered, i.e. municipal-election, calendar year.

There’s a special election in Attleboro to fill the mayoral vacancy left by Bristol County Sheriff Paul Heroux, and this is the last monthly report before that Feb. 28 election. That’s how Maynard uses these filings — you go to the reddest places on the current political heat map and see who is donating to whom. “By Jan. 31 you have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen in the coming year,” Maynard said. Salem’s another city with has an open mayor’s seat, vacated by Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll. Four men are vying in the preliminary.

In cities like Fall River and Springfield, Maynard goes first to the donations taken in by challengers to incumbent mayors — it gives him, not to mention the mayor, a read of their strength or vulnerability. One can conduct a similar exercise with challengers to city councilors in the larger cities, where councilors must report regularly under OCPF rules

In Boston, Maynard’s eye is drawn to the ABSENCE of challengers to sitting councilors — people who could have run, might have run, but didn’t. And where councilors do have “potentially serious challengers,” in Maynard’s phrase — Frank Baker and Liz Breadon are the incumbents in question — he’ll be studying how well the challenger’s campaign kickoffs performed. “That’s the biggest indicator of health for a challenger,” Maynard said.

In Springfield, it’s police reformer Justin Hurst, a client of Maynard’s, challenging longtime Mayor Domenic Sarno. In Fall River, ChatGPT itself could not properly describe the odd dynamics the background to the race, but, you know, that’s Fall River. Suffice it say, Sam Sutter’s challenge to Paul Coogan forces Spindle City residents to ask themselves “are they done with the Jasiel Correia psychodrama,” as Maynard puts it, or do they want yet another change.

Sutter’s fundraising will be the best gauge available as to how the political core of the city is feeling about that question. “It really means something to give to a challenger to a sitting mayor,”  Maynard said. “People say too much is made of how much candidates are raising, but along with endorsements, it’s the only public, objective way to measure” candidates’ claims of how well their races are going.

Jan. 31 can bring a flurry of reported year-end donations, and insight, for municipal political savants because candidates try to get their staunchest supporters to max out (give $1,000) in one calendar year so they can do so again in the election year — important in contested races especially, but also on general principle. It’s another political strength test. Who’s-with-whom is the fundamental question in city politics, and the answers are there in the reports, for obsessives at all levels, from the State House down, who care to look.

Budget Nerd Christmas comes early

Knowing the MASSterList crowd as we do, we’re just going to go ahead and say it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, you crazy kids, and it came a day before the statutory deadline. (We know you love it when we say “statutory.”) Administration and Finance Secretary Matthew Grozkowicz and the House and Senate Ways and Means chairs announced they’ve agreed to a figure on which to base the FY 2024 state budget now in development. The number is $40.41 billion, and it’s a big deal for a few reasons. It’s a hopeful sign for the state’s economic outlook, because it’s on the optimistic side, and estimates have tended to run low. It allows Grozkowicz to step on the gas in writing his budget, due March 1, with a firm figure for the top line. And it grounds his and the governor’s decision as to whether they want to propose tax cuts for working families and other groups, and how much they think they can afford. The number represents slower growth than in recent years, but that’s no surprise, and it projects 1.6% growth over incredibly robust performance the last few years.

State House News Service

What a long, strange trip it … will almost surely continue to be

With the state’s political community gripped with interest, if only out of morbid curiosity, the fractured, fractious state GOP will gather to decide the fate of party chair Jim Lyons tonight, and the Globe provides your fight card.

Boston Globe

Leading women help Campbell announce abortion hotline to ‘fight disinformation’

Attorney General Andrea Campbell convened some of the state’s leading woman politicians to announce a hotline about abortion access in the wake of the Dobbs case that struck down Roe v. Wade. She, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark gathered to announce the initiative staffing the 833-309-6301 hotline, a similar effort to what some other states have already done. Experts from the Reproductive Equity Now Foundation and the Women’s Bar Foundation will link callers to attorney volunteers who will provide legal advice on their rights and options. But it’s a public, as well private, initiative, and promoted on mass.gov.

AP Massachusetts | WCVB | mass.gov

Campbell and colleagues mourn Nichols, AAPI victims

AG Campbell has experienced firsthand the tensions and problems around police, city neighborhoods and issues of race, and during the hotline event she led a remembrance of Tyre Nichols, who died at the hands of Memphis police officers Jan. 7.  The AG said she’s “”deeply saddened and at moments emotionally overwhelmed” by the case, and the deaths of 18 Asian Americans in two shootings last week.   U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley put it this way: “”Black men deserve to grow old.”  Meanwhile, the Worcester City Council agendaed a discussion of its department’s body-camera program and the progress of the department’s equity audit.  That discussion, a response to the Nichols case, is set for this evening.

State House News Service | MassLive

Food and shelter — always an emergency 

With the coldest weather in seven years headed to Massachusetts, the governor picked up an issue left over from the last legislative session: a shortage of emergency shelter for migrants and other families in need of housing. The supplemental budget also funds a continuation of the free meal program in schools, which the governor said is in danger of running out money. As always, actual progress on the funding is up to the House and Senate — as noted by the Globe.

State House News Service | Boston Globe

Day Two: Woburn teacher’s strike latest

The first day of an illegal walkout in Woburn got plenty of play yesterday, with classes canceled and the state filing an injunction to force the educators back into the classrooms. Negotiations did not appear to be going well, and once again students are locked out today.

WCVB | NBC – 10 | Boston Globe

Can a public records law be open-ish?

Commonwealth Magazine contributor Colman Hermann notes the appearance of a new public-records policy statement on the website of Gov. Healey, who promised to increase disclosure and access to her office’s records despite its statutory exemption from such requirements.  But Hermann questions whether what’s on the site is actually an advancement from past practice.


Waiting too long for the T is one thing.  For an ambulance, quite another.

Kay Lazar of the Globe presents her fairly terrifying findings about ambulance response times in Boston, and sums them up well: “Citywide, response times for the most urgent calls are the slowest since at least 2014, records show.”  She then goes on to examine the data, and the problem, statewide.

Boston Globe

Still dangerous: Tarr refiles Baker’s pre-detention bail legislation

It may have been Gov. Baker’s biggest regret: he wasn’t able to convince the House and Senate to send him legislation granting judges new bail rules to hold especially dangerous defendants in cases of sexual assault, arson, and other especially problematic offenses. Now Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) has refiled the proposal, and says its merit persists and he’s hopeful he can succeed where Baker couldn’t.

Lawrence Eagle Tribune

Veto watch: Northampton mayor says she won’t sign pot-shop cap ordinance 

Northampton Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra has yet to sign or veto a City Council-approved ordinance that limits the number of cannabis dispensaries in the city and isn’t tipping her hand just yet, Alexander MacDougall of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. Sciarra has until Thursday to issue a veto or sign the ordinance, which will automatically take effect if she does nothing.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Bill would allow prisoners early-release for organ donations 

Two state lawmakers are proposing the creation of an organ-donation system for prisoners in the custody of the Department of Corrections that could allow those who take part to earn early release, the Herald’s Matthew Medgser reports. The bill from state representatives Carlos González of Springfield and Judith A. Garcia of Chelsea would allow sentence reductions of up to a year and open the organ and bone marrow-donation to prisoners for the first time.

Boston Herald

Fast track: Provincetown plots sooner-than-planned move to full-time fire coverage 

Officials in Provincetown are scrambling to put a formal proposal before Town Meeting to create a full-time fire department, a long-discussed switch suddenly made urgent when a local ambulance association announced it would stop servicing the town at the end of June. Denise Coffey of the Cape Cod Times reports Town Manager Alex Morse is still working out a price tag for the shift, which will require hiring 16 firefighters and EMTs.

Cape Cod Times

Home equity theft — in New Bedford and across Massachusetts

Boston-based real estate company Tallage has foreclosed on 54 properties in New Bedford after purchasing tax debt owed on them from the city, transactions that shifted millions of dollars worth of home equity out of local homeowners’ hands, Grace Ferguson of the New Bedford Light reports after a dive into local tax records.

New Bedford Light

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