ELECTION DAY: Republican Rep. Durant of Spencer and Democrat Rep. Zlotnik of Gardner face off in a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Anne Gobi, who resigned to work as state director of rural affairs. A bevy of municipal elections, including some mayoral contests, are also held in Agawam, Amesbury, Amherst, Attleboro, Barnstable, Beverly, Boston, Braintree, Brockton, Cambridge, Chelsea, Chicopee, Easthampton, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Franklin, Gardner, Gloucester, Greenfield, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Marlborough, Medford, Melrose, Methuen, New Bedford, Newburyport, Newton, North Adams, North Hampton, Peabody, Pittsfield, Quincy, Randolph, Revere, Salem, Saugus, Somerville, Springfield, Taunton, Waltham, Watertown, West Springfield, Westfield, Weymouth, Winthrop, Woburn and Worcester.
His people are staying tight-lipped about specifics, but it appears that former Gov. Charlie Baker could make his return to the Massachusetts State House in the coming months — and he might have an expensive new portrait of himself in tow.
Baker’s campaign finance account reported that it paid Pennsylvania-based artist Ellen Cooper $16,280 on Oct. 10 for a “final portrait.” Over the last year and change, Baker’s campaign account has spent $29,814.49 for Cooper’s services but neither he nor his spokespeople have actually acknowledged that the award-winning portrait artist is painting a portrait of Baker that will presumably hang in the State House alongside the likenesses of the governors who served before the Swampscott Republican. (The artist’s website lists a portrait of Baker as “in progress.”)
Cooper’s portrait of Baker is expected to eventually join those of the governors who preceded him on the walls of the lobby to the executive suite at the State House. For other governors (and Senate presidents who have chosen to have portraits done), the unveiling event has served as an administrative reunion of sorts, though Gov. Deval Patrick‘s portrait was actually debuted during his final days in office.
A political spokesman for Baker said there is not yet an exact date for his portrait unveiling, but that one should be put on the books soon.
Word that Cooper was the one working on Baker’s portrait first emerged in January, when MASSterList reported that Baker’s campaign account made a $1,534.49 payment to Ellen Cooper Portraits, LLC, on Dec. 29, 2022. Campaign finance filings show that Baker’s campaign made an initial $6,000 payment for “deposit for portrait” to Cooper on Aug. 25, 2022, the “portrait painting” payment last December, and another $6,000 payment to Cooper for “photography services” on March 21, 2023.
At just less than $30,000 (so far), the price tag of Baker’s portrait appears to be roughly in line with previous gubernatorial portraits — Gov. Mitt Romney‘s portrait by Richard Whitney cost $30,000, according to the Boston Herald, and the portrait of Patrick by Simmie Knox carried a $45,000 price tag, the News Service reported in 2015.
Acting Gov. Jane Swift, whose portrait was unveiled at the State House in 2005, appears to be the last Bay State governor to use a Massachusetts-based artist to paint their portrait, the Williamsburg-based artist Sarah Belchetz-Swenson. — Colin A. Young
Auditor says she will audit Legislature until a judge makes her stop
Days after Attorney General Andrea Campbell decreed the state Legislature is immune from examination by the state auditor, Auditor Diana DiZoglio told State House News Service she will proceed with an audit until a judge orders her to stop. “The attorney general is entitled to her own opinion about what the law says. That’s why we asked to take this matter to court, because there are differences of opinion. But short of a court order, our office will not be stopping our audit of the state Legislature,” DiZoglio said. “We are going to continue to do our jobs in accordance with our governing statute. We’re happy to have this conversation in court.” DiZoglio said she also will continue her bid to put the question to voters in a ballot measure. Legislative leaders maintain the body does not have to allow audits by other branches of government.— State House News Service
Pro-Palestinian protestors erupt at student loan event
Four dozen protestors against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians living in Gaza seized the spotlight at an event dedicated to student-debt forgiveness for public employees, leading U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Ayana Pressley to quickly wrap up remarks and exit. WCVB reported that neither elected official addressed the situation in Gaza, though both had previously called for at least a humanitarian pause in Israel’s attacks. Later yesterday, Pressley’s office issued a statement attributed to her that reads: “Peaceful protest is a core function of our democracy and I’m grateful to the activists who have been making the case in cities across the country for a ceasefire to save civilian lives. I share their urgency and I’m proud to stand in solidarity with them.” — WCVB
Mayors’ races dominate today’s polling
In the quarter of the state’s cities and towns that hold elections today, the biggest races will be for mayor. A number of communities will consider measures related to taxes and development. And in Central Massachusetts, voters will choose a state senator from a district sufficiently Republican that the party could increase its presence in the 40-member body to four from three. Secretary of State William F. Galvin said off-year elections such as today’s tend to draw low turnouts. — State House News Service
Mass. athletics overseers ripped into after boy smashes girl’s face in field hockey
A high school field hockey captain whose teammate suffered serious facial and dental injuries when she was struck by a ball launched by a male player chastised the Massachusetts Intercollegiate Athletics Association for failing to provide field hockey for male players. The MIAA said schools must let players compete on teams serving the opposite sex if single-sex teams for both sexes aren’t offered in a sport.
“I understand that the MIAA is adhering to the Massachusetts Equal Rights Amendment, but continuously using the law as a scapegoat for criticism and issues regarding this topic is unacceptable,” Dighton-Rehoboth Captain Kelsey Bain wrote to the MIAA after her teammate was injured by a Swampscott player. Bain added: “We all witnessed the substantial damage that a male has the ability to cause against a female during a game. How much longer does the MIAA plan on using girls as statistical data points before they realize that boys do not belong in girls’ sports? Twenty injuries? One hundred? Death?” — Boston Herald
Cambridge to try again on leaf-blower ban
Here comes the blowback. The Cambridge City Council has voted to advance an ordinance that would ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers by 2027 but as Marc Levy of the Day reports, what is expected to be fierce pushback from professional landscapers could come as soon as a hearing next week–and similar pushback has derailed previous efforts to target the noisy devices. — Cambridge Day
Blue Cross dropping a pre-approval to expedite home care
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will let patients move to home care from hospitals without prior authorization in a change the insurer said should benefit patients and help alleviate crowding at hospitals. The change, which will affect home care providers and some other therapies, will take effect Jan. 1, 2024, for commercial clients and a year later for Medicare Advantage members. — Boston Business Journal
Somerset voters roll out $20 million welcome mat for wind project
Voters in Somerset have approved $20 million worth of tax incentives to help the town land a $300 million facility that will make cables for offshore wind farms. More than 500 voters turned out for the special town meeting and supported the tax increment financing deal for Prysmian Group after months of contentious debate about whether the company actually needed the relief. — Herald-News
Clues left by overdose victim lead cops to $8 million drug bust
Police say contact information left on the phone of an overdose victim sparked an investigation that culminated with one of the largest drug busts in New England history. An estimated $8 million worth of fentanyl and other narcotics were discovered in a Lynn apartment building, including drugs formed into pills that resemble candy hearts. — Boston Globe
Why not? Florida man to launch presidential campaign from Plymouth
Hannah Morse of the Patriot Ledger explains why Tampa, Florida resident David Stuckenberg chose the site of the first house built in Plymouth by Pilgrims in the winter of 1620 as the site of the launch of his bid to become the Republican presidential nominee. — Patriot Ledger
Bostonian who made it in Hollywood wants more to follow path
Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, who hung pipe on the Big Dig to save money for film school and today is a successful Hollywood cinematographer, is part of a project seeking to open a film studio in South Boston. His goal, he says, is to create a clear path to Hollywood for film workers of color. Maddox-Upshaw said if a person of color could land a union construction job, as he did for the Big Dig, then a person of color should be able to land a job in Hollywood. — Axios Boston