Gov. Charlie Baker makes a morning appearance on ‘CBS This Morning’ and then heads home to Massachusetts after attending a National Governors Association gathering in Washington, D.C, CBS Boston, Channel 4, around 8:15 a.m.
Board of Education budget discussion
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to discuss Gov. Baker's fiscal 2018 budget proposal and get an update on Chapter 70 aid, as well as review graduation and dropout rates for the 2015 to 2016 school year, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, 8:30 a.m.
Education system review
Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy holds a briefing to discuss the education system in Massachusetts, including ‘student-centered’ approaches to learning, with speakers including Rep. Alice Peisch and Leominster Superintendent Jim Jolicoeur, House Members Lounge, 10 a.m.
Worcester airport announcement
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joins Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn, local leaders and officials from JetBlue Airways to make an announcement regarding air service at Worcester Regional Airport, Worcester Regional Airport, 375 Airport Rd, Worcester, 11 a.m.
Human services workforce report
Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ron Walker II, Rep. Elizabeth Malia and officials from the Seven Hills Foundation, the UMass Donahue Institute and UMass-Dartmouth will gather to release a report on “workforce crisis in human services," according to the Providers' Council, Room 428, 2 p.m.
Jehlen and Cusack on the air
Joint Marijuana Policy Committee co-chairs Sen. Pat Jehlen and Rep. Mark Cusack are scheduled to talk about marijuana legalization on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.
Gov. Baker joins MBTA Acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve to celebrate the 10,000th ride provided by the MBTA's The RIDE On-Demand Paratransit Pilot Program with ride-share companies Uber and Lyft and to make an announcement regarding the program's future, Entrance/Lobby of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital - Boston, 300 1st Avenue, Charlestown, 3 p.m.
President Trump is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress, Capitol Hill, Washington, 9 p.m.
Why not pay raises for legislative staffers as well?
Legislators got their pay raises. So Christa Kelleher, research and policy director of the McCormack Graduate School’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston, writes at CommonWealth magazine that every “legislative aide, budget analyst, chief of staff, or any of the other positions essential to our representational democracy deserve to be compensated fairly and adequately” as well. Kelleher just became the most popular figure at the State House this morning.
Harvard lobbies and spends to keep the fed funds flowing
From the Globe’s Christopher Rowland: “Harvard president Drew Faust is ramping up efforts to protect the university from upheaval during the Trump administration, shuttling to Washington this week to make the case for ongoing scientific funding and the continued free flow of foreign students and academics. ... The college spent about $600,000 last year lobbying officials to make sure the federal tap continues to flow. It also is closely monitoring tax overhaul plans that could reduce or eliminate deductions for charitable giving and impose taxes on the university’s huge endowment.”
Don’t look now: Lottery revenues plunge by 11 percent
Sure, the Lottery is still profitable. But its revenues continue to fall, raising fears among policy-wonk types about the long-term stability of one of the state’s major revenue sources. Colin Young at SHNS has the latest bleak numbers – sales down 11 percent in January and year-to-date sales tracking 3 percent below last year.
Hospitals and unions unite to urge Baker to fight Medicaid changes
From Priyanka Dayal McCluskey at the Globe: “More than two dozen groups representing Massachusetts hospitals, nonprofits, labor unions, and other organizations are urging Governor Charlie Baker to oppose any federal policy changes that could threaten Medicaid coverage for thousands of poor and disabled people across the state.”
Felix Arroyo hires Doug Rubin as strategist in probate agency fight
Suspended Suffolk Probate Register Felix D. Arroyo is not only raising money for a defense fund to keep his job. He’s now hired former Gov. Deval Patrick’s top strategist Doug Rubin to advise him in his now high-profile fight to clear his name and get his job back, reports the Herald’s Jack Encarnacao. You’d think Arroyo is running for office again, and, in a way, that’s precisely what he’s doing, a sort of pre-reelection re-election campaign.
The Baker administration is throwing its weight behind a pilot project extending weekday commuter rail service to Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium. Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash said at an MBTA yesterday that proposed daily rail service to Foxboro would be an economic boon for the entire Route 1 corridor, not just Bob Kraft’s Gillette Stadium and Patriots Place, reports Michael Deehan at WGBH. But critics are not jumping aboard. "It's either a conspiracy of ignorance or a culture of arrogance that would allow expansion when (T) debt has not been paid off," Sen. James Timilty told the board. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl has more on the controversial rail plan.
MassPort and JetBlue are slated to make an announcement today about expanded service out of Worcester Regional Airport -- and Walter Bird Jr. of Worcester Magazine reports the new destination will be JFK airport in New York City. The new route could represent a major boost for the little-used airport, which has seen millions of dollars in new investments in recent years and where JetBlue currently operates flights to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
More money for Orange Line trolleys, Brighton station to open in May
Two other interesting developments from the T yesterday:
From Bill Forry at Dot News: “The MBTA will pump $7.9 million into a repair project that will keep their fleet of PCC trolley cars running on the Mattapan Hi-Speed Line for ‘the near future’ as an independent review of the line's infrastructure continues this year. T officials say that the investment will focus on rebuilding the trolley ‘trucks"— the undercarriage that houses the key mechanical components of the World War II-era, Worcester-built cars.” From
SHNS’s Andy Metzger at WBUR: “A new Boston commuter rail station funded by shoe-manufacturer New Balance is set to open in May, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said Monday. The Boston Landing station located next to the Massachusetts Turnpike along the Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line in Brighton is at a development where the shoe company is headquartered.”
T pension costs keep rising
MBTA workers are retiring in droves – and getting top pension dollars – and putting further strain on the T’s ability to keep up with adequate pension contributions, the Herald’s Matt Stout reports. He writes that the MBTA is slated to contribute $84 million to the retirement fund this year, or more than double the $37 million it gave a decade earlier.
Flanked by emergency management leaders, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito visited the site of the state’s first-ever February tornado, which touched down in Conway and Goshen over the weekend, and called it a ‘miracle’ that no one was killed or hurt as the storm devastated homes and other structures in its path,Patrick Johnson of MassLive reports. Polito, who was serving as acting governor while Gov. Baker was in Washington, D.C., pledged state support for rebuilding efforts in the communities, Andy Castillo reports in the Hampshire Daily Gazette.
Trying to understand Trump supporters? They’re all around you – just ask
In a Globe piece headlined ‘How Trump voters feel now,’ Diane Hessan says blue-state Dems still in shock over the November election don’t have to travel to the Midwest and South to find out what Trump supporters think. They’re all around us and Hessan says they don’t fit the stereotypes, though they’re becoming a little alarmed at the erratic behavior coming out of the White House, she writes.
Civility breaks out: Setti reaches out to Trump supporters
Newton Mayor Setti Warren has found his very own Trump supporters in Winchendon and actually met with them – and they didn’t have fangs and pointy tails, as reported by Greg Vine at the Gardner News. “I think it’s important to sit down with Trump supporters, and the supporters of other candidates, to see if we can find common ground,” said Warren, an all but declared Democratic candidate for governor. “I’ll stand up against any sexist or racist comments or actions that come out of that administration, but I don’t believe most Trump supporters fall into that category.”
Jay Gonzalez, the former Patrick administration budget chief and only declared Democratic candidate for governor, holds his first Boston fundraiser tonight – and he’s not going cheap, according to a SHNS calendar listing: Supporters can become co-chairs by raising $2,500 and a co-host by contributing $1,000, though tickets are available starting at a bargain-basement $25. The fundraiser is at Central Bistro.
Warren and Markey demand details on cutting off sanctuary-city funds
From Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive: “Pushing back on President Trump's executive order cutting federal funding to ‘sanctuary jurisdictions,’ US Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey on Monday sent a letter to top administration officials calling the order unconstitutional and asking them to break down the impact of denying funding to Massachusetts.”
State Street Corp., Putnam Investments and now Fidelity Investments are all cutting back on their payrolls, with Fidelity expected to announce today an employee buyout program as part of its ongoing, multi-year effort to reduce costs, reports the BBJ’s Greg Ryan. Before hitting the here-comes-the-next-recession panic button, Fidelity and other mutual fund companies, and those tied to mutual fund companies, are feeling a long-term squeeze as investors increasingly opt for lower-fee passive funds over higher-fee actively managed funds, as Ryan notes. Still, it’s a big deal whenever Fidelity, which remains highly profitable, so much as sneezes in this town.
Here’s another reason not to hit the here-comes-the-next-recession panic button, via the Massachusetts Association of Realtors: “The 2017 real estate market got off to a good start in January as both single-family and condo sales were up compared to the same time last year. Ongoing buyer demand made January 2017 the most active month for single-family closed sales since 2004. Median prices for both property types were also up in January.” Not that ever-rising home costs are good for the state. They’re not. But they are a sign of a healthy economy.
Without mentioning names, GE chief takes aim at Trump trade policies
He didn’t mention any names. But everyone knows who General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt was referring to when he took exception to nationalist and protectionist economic policies being touted by President Trump, who Immelt recently met with in Washington, reports the Globe’s Jon Chesto. “There is a strong trend toward nationalism all over the world,” Immelt wrote in his annual message to shareholders. “Governments will execute heavy influence over the economy, with an even stronger focus on local job creation.” He added GE’s “preference is for multilateralism and free trade.”
And tell us again why we should be building new natural-gas pipelines?
This doesn’t bode well for those arguing for more natural-gas pipelines in Massachusetts, even though it’s pretty obvious this winter might be an aberration. From SHNS’s Michael Norton at the BBJ: “Mild weather and low natural gas prices helped push wholesale electricity prices last year in New England to the lowest level in 13 years, according to the region’s grid operator.”
With 250 signatures, Boston residents could demand – and get – a council meeting
From Isaiah Thompson at WGBH: “Boston City Council President Michelle Wu filed an ordinance with the City Clerk (Monday) that would, if passed by the Council, establish a mechanism by which ordinary residents would be able to petition the Council to hold a hearing on any matter.” The ordinance is based on state’s "right of free petition" that allows citizens to place state ordinances on the ballot by means of petition.
Landlord-tenant fight: Citgo and building owner haggle over iconic sign rent
Citgo Petroleum Corp., whose iconic Citgo sign sits atop a roof in Kenmore Square, is locked in a stalemate with building owner Related Beal over how much the Venezuelan-owned oil company should be paying in rent, reports Tim Logan at the Globe. Can we make a suggestion that may shock some Bostonians? Here goes: Let the Citgo sign go. After a few weeks or months of controversy after it disappears, it won’t be missed as much as some think.
Who knew US News and World Report was still around, let alone ranking Massachusetts as the top state in the nation in terms of best serving its citizens? Our education and health-care systems played huge roles in the ranking.
The state’s district attorneys are facing new pressure to drop cases tainted by drug laboratory mishandling, Christian Wade reports in the Salem News. A coalition of advocacy groups, including the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School, wrote to area DA’s to push for full exoneration of the suspects in all cases tainted by the Annie Dookhan lab scandal and to urge that cases be dismissed ‘with prejudice,’ meaning the charges cannot be refiled.
State Rep. Antonio Cabral wants House leadership to fast-track legislation that would prohibit state funds from being used by Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson to train his staff to work closely with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, Wesley Sykes of the Standard-Times reports. Cabral has also filed legislation that would block Hodgson from offering his inmates’ labor to support construction of a border wall with Mexico.
Man who buried pickup truck in yard to escape prosecution pleads guilty
This is a sad and pathetic at the same time, via MassLive’s Buffy Spencer, who reports a Monson man was sentenced to a year in jail after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal accident and then burying his truck in his backyard, using equipment from his family’s construction firm, to avoid detection. Christopher J. Lemek Jr. 40, ultimately wasn’t held responsible for the tragic pedestrian death, as the story explains, only for bolting from the scene.