10 a.m. | Robert F. Kennedy Jr. officially announces his campaign for the Democratic nomination to be president of the U.S. The nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission last week. | Boston Park Plaza, Boston
11 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey is expected to make "an Earth Week announcement related to climate resiliency and preparedness efforts" during a visit to Belle Isle Marsh with Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Tepper. | 1399 Bennington St., Boston
1 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey participates in the announcement of the expansion of MassNextGen, a public-private partnership that supports underrepresented entrepreneurs in the Massachusetts life sciences sector. | Takeda Pharmaceuticals, 650 E. Kendall St., Cambridge
More transparency “than ever before” was the promise Gov. Maura Healey made to voters when it came to the issue of public records.
The Cambridge Democrat vowed she would break precedent with governors past, who for decades have claimed a blanket exemption from public records law based on a 1997 Supreme Judicial Court decision, shrouding their administrations in opacity.
Massachusetts and Michigan are the only states where the governor’s offices claim such an exemption. The Bay State is the only one in the nation where the governor’s office, the Legislature and the judiciary all claim to be exempt.
But the new governor appears to have walked back her pledge to buck the exemption, issuing a policy that said Healey “intends to follow the public records law” while reserving the right to deny based on “any unique obligations of the Governor’s Office.”
Critics say Healey is “trying to have her cake and eat it too.”
“It’s effectively no different than what any other governor had,” said Justin Silverman, executive director of the nonpartisan New England First Amendment Coalition that promotes open access to government documents. “She’s carved out exceptions for herself that allow her to provide records when she decides to do so, but at the same time she’s claiming to follow public records law.”
MASSterList put Healey’s policy to the test, requesting a list of every records request to the governor’s office since she took the oath of office on Jan. 5.
Of the 24 requests detailed by Healey’s office — 25 if you count MASSterList’s — Healey’s office issued denials for four as of mid-March. Three requests had “no responsive records,” and at least some records were produced in 18 requests, according to her office.
Two of the four rejections dealt with requests from WBUR for copies of sexual harassment complaints, non-disclosure agreements and settlement or severance agreements dating back five years to former Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration. A third request from an independent journalist sought emails from the former governor.
Healey spokeswoman Karissa Hand told MASSterList Healey’s policy to produce more documents does not extend to previous administrations, but underscored that the governor is “proud to be bringing more transparency” during her tenure.
The fourth denial was for a February request from MassLive seeking emails and documents related to the then-ongoing MBTA general manager search. Silverman said it speaks to the gray area Healey has created for herself.
While Silverman admits Healey’s record so far “is some degree better than her predecessors’,” he takes issue with her denials.
The denial letter from Healey’s records access officer in this instance — and others reviewed by MASSterList — cited the Lambert decision, effectively contradicting her own policy.
“She’s trying to have it both ways and claim she’s following the public records law when, in fact, she’s not,” Silverman said.
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MBTA watch 🚇
Days since the last derailment, fire, crash, falling debris, or critical incident: 1
Days with localized speed restrictions: 40
Days without “normal” weekday subway service: 301
On Jan. 5, Gov. Healey pledged to hire a new MBTA Transportation Safety Chief within 60 days. It has now been 105 days without the position being filled.
Mass federal delegation wants answers following leak by ‘low-level’ national guardsman
Members of Massachusetts’ federal delegation, including Congressmen Jake Auchincloss and Seth Moulton, say Air National Guard and Pentagon have some explaining to do over to how a low-level airman could have facilitated a major security breach like the one investigators accuse Airman Jack Teixeira of inducing, writes Chris Van Buskirk for MassLive. Both lawmakers are veterans.
An inspector general for the Air Force has been directed to investigate the Air National Guard intelligence unit at Joint Base Cape Cod where the accused document leaker worked, writes Beth Healy for WBUR
Running group accuses police of ‘racially targeted’ effort to disrupt Boston Marathon cheering
Members of Pioneers Run Crew, a Black- and Brown-led running group in Boston, are accusing Newton police of “racially targeted overpolicing” after officers at the Boston Marathon surrounded and blocked them from giving out high fives at their cheering spot along Heartbreak Hill at Mile 21, writes Rick Sobey for The Boston Herald. New police said officers with bicycles lined up at the running group’s spot in Newton at the request of the Boston Athletic Association to stop spectators traversing the rope barrier and impeding runners.
Healey’s 100 days come with several successes, few crises
Gov. Maura Healey largely avoided crises and made it through her first 100 days collecting some success, including on her tax package — many elements of which the House has already passed — and filled new Cabinet positions on climate change and veterans affairs. She also moved quickly to stockpile the abortion drug mifepristone in the face of a federal ban, write Matt Stout and Samatha J. Gross for The Boston Globe. But, the state is still in need of solutions for its “broken” transportation and housing systems, they say.
Convention Center Authority halts controversial South Boston redevelopment
The independent state agency that oversees its convention centers has rejected two controversial plans and pushed out its request for proposals for redeveloping a 6.2-acre piece of land in South Boston taken via eminent domain a decade ago after officials accused it of using “false pretenses” to launch the effort, writes Greg Ryan of the Boston Business Journal. The MCCA still intends to move forward with redevelopment, just on a slower timeline.
Alleged storage-unit killer accused of killing, partially dismembering couple, held on bail
A Medford man has been held without bail. Prosecutors say Leonid Volkov, 37, is behind the murders of two men found stabbed to death in a storage unit — one of whom was dismembered — and the DA anticipates more charges coming in the grisly double slaying that allegedly followed a rental dispute, writes Sean Cotter for The Boston Globe. Police discovered the bodies of Pavel Vekshin and Kiryl Schukin last weekend inside rubber bins in a Brighton storage unit.
Pentagon, fishing industry sounding the alarm over offshore wind development
An “unprecedented expansion of offshore wind,” propelled by industry insiders-turned regulators has fast-tracked development despite repeated warnings from federal scientists about potential harms to marine life and the fishing industry, writes a two-reporter team for New Bedford Light.
The Pentagon is also warning of potential harms from the Biden administration’s plans to advance offshore wind projects along the central Atlantic US coast it says could conflict with military operations, Bloomberg News writes.
The Trump administration put roadblocks in the path of offshore wind development in favor of fossil fuels that the Biden administration has ripped up. Instead, the government is now fast-tracking clean alternatives like wind and solar to expand domestic energy production and slow the pace of climate change.
Moran likely winner in Boston House race
South End Democrat John Moran appears poised to fill Dr. Jon Santiago’s House seat in Boston’s 9th Suffolk district after his primary opponent, Amparo “Chary” Ortiz, suspended her campaign. There are no Republicans running, so the race is likely to be decided following the May 2 primary. Santiago resigned earlier this year to join the Healey administration as secretary of Veterans’ Services.
Cambridge Easter Day church fire investigated as arson
A massive fire at a church in Cambridge following Easter Sunday mass is being investigated as arson, CBS Boston reports. The fire destroyed the Faith Lutheran Church on Broadway. The FBI is asking any members of the public who may have information to contact them
Affordable housing on top of libraries adds up to community success, advocates say
When you add affordable housing on top of libraries, community advocates say the sum total is success for a community struggling in the midst of a housing crisis. Boston’s West End and Upham’s corner branches are the first to gain housing under the Walsh administration policy proposal. A third, brand-new library being built in Chinatown will also see affordable units.
Lyme-disease-carrying deer tick season is getting longer
Tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease are on the rise in the U.S., especially in the Northeast, upper Midwest and northern Pacific Coast where the warming climate enables ticks to be active earlier in the spring and later into the fall or winter months, extending the window of tick-borne disease risk each year, NPR reports.
Good news for Westfield as Air Force pledges F-35s for Barnes
The U.S. Air Force said Tuesday it would base 18 of its next-generation F-35 fighters at Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing, a long-awaited move that will protect a key engine of the city’s economy for the foreseeable future. Jim Kinney and Cynthia Simison of MassLive have the details.
Marlborough eyes compromise on affordable housing after mayoral veto
Saying it would hamper development, Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant has vetoed an inclusionary zoning bylaw that passed the city council unanimously, setting the stage for an override or a compromise measure.
Nantucket will drop lawsuit against 40B project after commitment on year-round housing
The town of Nantucket said it would drop its appeal of a state-approved 40B affordable housing project in exchange for a promise from the developer to set aside at least 75 of the units in the project for year-round residents. The move may signal the end of five years of acrimony and legal action on the island over the 156-unit condo project, though some private groups still want the courts to intervene.
Boosted: S&P upgrades state’s credit rating
Citing the state’s still-growing $7 billion Rainy-Day Fund, a favorable economic outlook and a relatively rapid recovery from the pandemic, S&P has boosted the state’s credit rating. The move is a long-awaited reversal of a 2017 downgrade that came after multiple years in which the legislature raided the savings account to help balance annual budgets.