8:30 a.m. | Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission meets for an update on police certifications and disciplinary recordsd.
9 a.m. | MBTA Board of Directors Audit and Finance Subcommittee meets to receive a presentation about a MassDOT internal audit.
10 a.m. | Cannabis Control Commission, whose chair described in late July as being "in crisis," meets.
10 a.m. | MBTA Board of Directors Planning, Workforce, Development and Compensation Subcommittee meets to discuss workforce attraction and retention.
11 a.m. | MBTA Board of Directors Safety, Health and Environment Subcommittee meets to discuss a transit safety plan and receive an update on the T's response to a 2022 Federal Transit Administration safety management inspection.
7 p.m. | Massachusetts Democratic Party State Committee holds quarterly meeting in Worcester. | Worcester Technical High School, 1 Officer Manny Familia Way, Worcester
Whether a campaign trail pledge from Gov. Maura Healey to break with the tradition of her predecessors, promising to follow public records law and bring more transparency to the office “than ever before” has been realized, depends on whom you ask.
By many accounts, Gov. Maura Healey has been selective in which public records requests she’s fulfilled. Now, state lawmakers — who are facing a potential records probe of their own — could force her hand. A bill filed by Sen. Michael Brady would open the governor’s office to scrutiny by making the office subject to the same public records law as other state departments.
The bill, first pitched by Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, seeks to open the governor’s office only, because past bills seeking to open both the governor’s office and the Legislature have failed to gain traction. The Legislature, governor’s office and the judiciary in Massachusetts are all shielded from answering public records requests — the only state in the nation where all three branches of government claim blanket exemptions from the public scrutiny the documents provide.
Healey, who as attorney general was responsible for enforcing the public records law, said via a spokesperson that she believes the governor’s office should fall under the umbrella of agencies and bodies subject to the law’s provisions. But in practice, she’s given up less than the law would require. Her office has produced some redacted calendars and information about her trip to Ireland. Still, it has withheld correspondence with legislative leaders, email and phone logs, records related to the hiring of MBTA General Manager Phil Eng, sexual harassment complaints and any written communications showing how the administration stockpiled doses of the abortion pill mifepristone.
The governor said documents her office denied to release “are exempt under the public records law” because of things like “attorney-client privilege,” “safety implications” or a carveout for “deliberative process.”
As the Legislature considers opening the governor’s office to public records requests, Democratic leadership is fighting a probe by state Auditor Diana DiZoglio to open their books, a request the attorney general will decide on. In a recent appearance on GBH, Healey wouldn’t stake out a position but said, “One thing I know is that Attorney General Campbell and her team will make a thoughtful and considered decision.”
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Finally, a signed budget
Gov. Maura Healey signed and delivered the state budget yesterday — her first since taking office. The $56. 2 billion document is the latest state budget to be delivered in almost 22 years — thanks to the Legislature’s slow moves in deliberations. Healey took nine of the 10 days she is allowed to review the budget.
Included in the earmarks are one of Healey’s signature policy proposals: the $20 million “MassReconnect” program to make community college free to those over age 25 who lack college degrees. It also makes universal free school meals permanent and grants some undocumented immigrants access to in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. Boston will finally get a seat on the MBTA board of directors. And the state is bringing back the pandemic-era program that pauses eviction cases while tenants have pending applications for rental aid.
The Legislature has until Nov. 15 to make vetoes on some of the things Healey nixed.
The just-signed Massachusetts state budget included many robust earmarks for veterans, Sen. John Velis said.
It’s a ‘go’: Boston to move forward with Long Island bridge rebuild
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu says she’s taking the latest permit awarded to the city in its work toward reconstructing a 35-acre recovery campus on Long Island for people struggling with addiction after state authorities as a “go.” The permit, known as a Chapter 91 license, evaluates the impact of a project — in this case rebuilding the bridge — on public access to coastlines and waterways. The next steps for Boston’s Long Island Bridge project: a federal consistency review by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and a bridge permit from the US Coast Guard.
Boston city councilors back tax breaks for businesses hurt by Mass and Cass
A double-barreled approach to tackling the “public health crisis” at Boston’s Mass and Cass was praised for giving businesses there a break, but knocked for assertions that street cleaning equipment was spreading diseases, writes The Boston Herald’s Gayla Cawley. Murphy’s proposal came in the form of two hearing orders, both of which were discussed at a Wednesday City Council meeting. Two councilors also took the opportunity to knock Murphy for saying street sweepers spread diseases.
Massachusetts cannabis equity efforts fall short
Five years after the first recreational cannabis dispensaries opened their doors, none of the state’s largest retail companies — those with the maximum number of licenses allowed by law — are classified as equity businesses, reports the Boston Business Journal. Massachusetts has touted itself as the first state with social equity regulations to make the marketplace more inclusive but they may not be working quite as some hoped.
Dad cleared of fraud in college admissions scandal demands $1 million back
A private equity investor who had his fraud conviction overturned in the sprawling “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal now wants the $1 million he paid to the scheme’s mastermind back, writes Bloomberg News. John B. Wilson was among dozens of parents charged with taking part in the scam to cheat their kids’ way into elite institutions.
Massachusetts farmers have been slammed by climate change
From a deep freeze in February that killed most of the peach and plum crops, to a May frost that ruined blueberries and apple to heavy rains and floods in July, crazy weather driven by climate change has ruined nearly 3,000 acres of crops in the state, affecting more than 100 farms and costing about $15 million, reports WBUR’s Barbara Moran. It’s left farmers asking themselves a pretty big question: how to keep farming in a rapidly changing climate.
Former Foxboro town manager gets four months severance pay to resign
Former Town Manager John Coderre “voluntarily” tendered his resignation in exchange for four months’ salary, according to the terms of a separation agreement released publicly this week, The Sun Chronicle reported. The circumstances that prompted his abrupt exit less than three months after being hired remain veiled in secrecy.
Haitian refugees work permits remain in limbo
Families coming into Worcester’s Holiday Inn Express are coming from Haiti since President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination caused the country’s security situation to deteriorate rapidly. The permits that will allow refugees to work, however, remain elusive.
Mental health crisis in the Worcester schools: What is being done about it?
With nearly 60 percent of students saying anxiety and stress is their top challenge, the Worcester Public Schools plans to roll out a number of programs aimed at addressing the mental health crisis, even as the district struggles to fill open school counselor positions. The Telegram’s Henry Schwan reports new programs this year including reducing reliance on suspensions, introducing “wellness rooms” in upper grades and using data to identify students who may be struggling.
Anti-semitic material distributed in West Brookfield
West Brookfield police say they recovered nearly two dozen plastic baggies filled with rice and anti-semitic propaganda after reports from some residents in the rural community. The material blames Jewish people for the Covid pandemic; police initially responded because of concerns the baggies contained hazardous materials.
Latest Taunton mayoral hopeful says he’ll do job for free
A third candidate has waded into the race for Taunton mayor and local retiree and pilot Chuck Wright says if elected he’ll make city government more transparent and won’t take the annual pay for the post, which was increased last year to $133,000 a year, Daniel Schemer of the Taunton Gazette reports.