A former long-serving state representative and officer in the Army JAG Corps, Hank Naughton once briefly ran for attorney general, turned his attention to judicial aspirations, and ultimately scored one of Gov. Charlie Baker’s final court appointments.
But after just six months presiding over District Court cases in Worcester County, Naughton dashed off a sudden resignation letter last month, giving court administrators four days’ notice of his intention to quit the bench.
As it turns out, the Clinton Democrat moved back to the law firm where he worked up until 2022 — New York-based Napoli Shkolnik — just as the firm reels in a “landmark” PFAS water contamination settlement with major chemical companies.
Naughton had worked with public water utilities on the multi-district litigation between his time as a lawmaker and receiving the late-term nomination from Baker. Multi-billion dollar settlements ($1.185 billion from a DuPont case and up to $12.5 billion from a 3M Company suit) were announced over the summer after he had taken the bench.
The cases are set to produce hefty attorneys’ fees — class counsel filed a motion over the weekend seeking $94.8 million.
Asked about his short tenure as a judge and his choice to rejoin Napoli Shkolnik, Naughton said Monday that his latest move was the “best for my children.”
“At the end of the day, I decided returning to the firm was best for my children and my extended family,” he said in an email to the News Service. “This work is also very purposeful and meaningful. When the settlements are distributed, it will create the opportunity for cleaner water for hundreds of thousands of Americans. I’m proud to be part of something like this.”
Healey says state won’t be able to comply with shelter guarantee for long
Gov. Maura Healey said Monday the state will soon be unable to comply with the Dukakis-era law that makes shelter a legal right in Massachusetts. “We do not have enough space, service providers or funds to safely expand beyond 7,500 families. We expect to hit that limit at the end of the month,” the governor said during a news conference. “From that point on, we’ll no longer be able to guarantee shelter placement for new families entering.” Healey has declared a housing emergency as the state struggles to cope with a surge of immigrants. — State House News Service
State appetite for motel rooms for immigrants driving prices beyond reach of poor guests
Observers of the chaos swirling around the state’s efforts to provide housing immigrants tell WBUR some existing low-income residents of motels have been forced out because of rent increases implemented by owners capitalizing on the shifting supply and demand dynamics produced by the state’s pursuit of rooms for immigrants. The radio station told the story of a mother and son who were barely able to afford the motel where they lived and following a recent price hike moved into their car. — WBUR
Harvard loses Wexner Foundation support as fallout over Hamas response continues
The Wexner Foundation said Monday it would sever its formal relationship with Harvard University, citing the university’s lackluster official response to the Hamas attack on Israel. The nonprofit contributed well over $2 million to Harvard in 2021 alone. —Boston Globe
Housing market suggests squeeze will continue
A trifecta of indicators tracked by The Warren Group suggest buying a home in Massachusetts isn’t about to get any easier: inventory is down, sales are way down and prices are up. Making matters even more difficult for would-be buyers: a spike in interest rates has made mortgages less affordable. State Housing Secretary Ed August recently said Massachusetts needs 200,000 more units to balance supply and demand. The Healey administration is expected to file a housing bond bill replete with policy moves soon. — State House News Service
Lawyers for homeowners pressing SJC to end tax-based foreclosures
Lawyers are asking the state Supreme Judicial Court to halt tax lien foreclosures in Massachusetts – five months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it’s illegal for cities and towns anywhere in the country to profit from disposing of foreclosed-upon properties. “This has been going on way too long and now is the time to fix it,” one lawyer told WCVB. Massachusetts is among states where communities have engaged in the practice. State legislators in both houses said bills to remedy the situation are being studied in committee. — WCVB
Sports betting revenue surges as casino take lags
The state’s three casinos generated $90 million in revenue in September, a decline from the month before more than made up for by a surge in sports betting revenue, which nearly doubled to $50 million as college and professional football returned. — Sun Chronicle
The Mass Gaming Commission numbers include an incomplete report from MGM Springfield, whose parent company suffered a cyberattack that prevented a full accounting of table-game revenue for the entire month. — MassLive
Was push to register part-time residents of Truro to vote legal?
As Truro prepares for a special town meeting on Saturday, a former state election official says a push to register part-time residents to vote in town temporarily so they can take part in the meeting likely ran afoul of state law. Walker Armstrong of the Cape Cod Times has the details. —Cape Cod Times
Last laugh? ‘Codfather’ says Blue Harvest bankruptcy is poetic justice
As fishing boats he once owned are being cut into scrap metal on the New Bedford waterfront, Carlos ‘the Codfather’ Rafael is shedding no tears. Will Sennott of the Light reports Rafael may have cleared as much as $100 million from the government-forced sale of his empire after his fraud conviction while Blue Harvest, the company that filled the void he left, is now in bankruptcy protection. — New Bedford Light
Nantucket offers police chief job to Northampton’s Kasper
The town of Nantucket has offered its vacant police chief job to current Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper, Jason Graziadei of the Current reports. Kasper, who has been a member of the Northampton department for 25 years and chief since 2015, would become the first woman to lead the Nantucket force. — Nantucket Current
State Cannabis Control Commission picks acting head
The state Cannabis Control Commission has named its head of human resources, Debra Hilton-Creek, to run the agency until executive director Shawn Collins returns for parental leave in early December. “Debbie is a military veteran, a human resources practitioner with over 25 years of management and organizational leadership experience, and as evidenced in our last meeting, she has really gotten up to speed on our policies and procedures here at the commission in a really impressive amount of time,” Acting Chair Ava Callender Concepcion said. — State House News Service
A new green color scheme for the Green Line
When the new Green Line “supercars” arrive from Spanish train manufacturer CAF, they will be a different, perhaps more serious, shade of green, the MBTA announced yesterday with a sleek rendering of the new train car. The color scheme is the people’s choice, according to the T, which held a public vote, and the cars themselves may be in service for the general public by 2027. The Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin has more. — Universal Hub