The House and Senate committees on Ways and Means will gather in Worcester to hear from public safety officials, the judiciary and others about the next fiscal-year state budget, Worcester State University, 486 Chandler St., North South Room, Worcester, 9 a.m.
Social workers march
About 800 social workers are expected at the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Social Workers annual Legislative Education and Advocacy Day, starting at Faneuil Hall and then a march to the State House, Faneuil Hall, 9 a.m.
Warren in Springfield
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren holds an office hours event to hear from constituents, 1550 Main St., Springfield, 10:15 a.m.
The Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy will convene its first working hearing with testimony expected from Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby and representatives from Attorney General Maura Healey's office, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Revenue and the Department of Agriculture, Hearing Room A-1, 11 a.m.
ACLU legislative lunch
American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts holds a legislative luncheon to promote its ‘Freedom Agenda’ of 2017 legislative priorities, Great Hall, 11:30 a.m.
MBTA control board
MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board meets with an agenda that includes discussion of fiscal year 2018 budget options, customer service and customer service agents, climate resiliency and an update on the T's fleet plan, Transportation Board Meeting Room, Second Floor, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 12 p.m.
‘Trump to Rebuild Green Monster: Make Yankees Pay For It’
Despite all the pre-parade controversy over letting gay veterans march, the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston went off without a hitch yesterday and the pre-parade jokes were flying at the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in Southie, reports NECN. Boston.com’s Nik DeCosta-Klipa compiles all the good, the bad and the ugly of jokes at the breakfast. Our personal favorites were U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “fake news” announcements, including “State Department negotiates cease-fire in space saver war” and “Trump to rebuild Green Monster and make Yankees pay for it.” The Globe and Herald andMassLive have more on the breakfast.
There were the dreams for UMass-Boston. Then there were the harsh realities behind the dreams, such as the university’s $30 million budget gap caused by the vast expansion and construction boom at UMass-Boston, reports the Globe’s Laura Krantz. The budget mess explains why chancellor J. Keith Motley recently had his executive-power wings clipped. The Globe’s Adrian Walker has more on UMass-Boston’s financial woes, which he says are a “disaster.”
There isn’t a Massachusetts angle to this, not as far as we can see. It’s just interesting how President Trump, who seems to have a strange attraction to Russia, is now acting like a Russian, sending political appointees to government agencies to monitor the loyalty of cabinet secretaries, the Washington Post reports. The appointees even report directly to a new Office of Cabinet Affairs, not to agency chiefs. From the Post: “At the Pentagon, they’re privately calling the former Marine officer and fighter pilot who’s supposed to keep his eye on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis ‘the commissar,’ according to a high-ranking defense official with knowledge of the situation. It’s a reference to Soviet-era Communist Party officials who were assigned to military units to ensure their commanders remained loyal.”
After approving pay raises for themselves at the start of the year, lawmakers seem to have noticeably slowed their pace of activity on Beacon Hill, producing only a trickle of bills and leaving some wondering when legislative activity will pick up again, report the Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan and Frank Phillips. They may not be as slow as three-toed sloths, the ‘slowest mammals on the earth,’ according to PBS (with sloths video). But they’re doing a pretty good legislative imitation of sloths, it seems.
DeLeo: Trump, Trump, Trump, I’m tired of hearing about Trump
Maybe lawmakers can blame Donald Trump for the lack of Beacon Hill activity. House Speaker Robert DeLeo says all-things-Trump these days has become a distraction at the State House, writes Hillary Chabot at the Heald. “I found myself just dealing so much with reps talking about Donald Trump that I decided I’m just going to have just one caucus strictly to hear from members on that,” said DeLeo. “I think it’s important that I, as speaker, try to bring people back here into what’s going on in Massachusetts.”
In an interview with Ana Marie Cox of the New York Times, video game developer Brianna Wu, who plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch in the 2018 Democratic primary, calls on Democrats to change their entire approach to campaigning. Donald Trump’s victory, she said, left her shaken and “helped me come to the conclusion that Republicans are very, very effective at getting people to go out there and vote with their emotions.” Democrats, she said, “need to speak with our hearts more.”
So is Treasurer Goldberg the lead regulator of pot – or not?
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo says that, yes, Treasurer Deb Goldberg can and should appoint someone to run the commission that will eventually oversee legalized marijuana in Massachusetts. Then again, DeLeo said Goldberg should maybe hold off on appointing the full commission, reports Marie Szaniszlo at the Herald. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Joshua Millerreports Goldberg, who is scheduled to appear today at the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, plans to argue against legislative efforts to strip her office of marijuana oversight and will ask lawmakers for $10 million to enforce pot laws.
Warren slams Supreme Court nominee as mere puppet of big companies and right-wing billionaires
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a former Harvard Law School professor, isn’t impressed with the credentials of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, whose nomination hearings start today in Washington. “Big companies and rich right-wing billionaires are spending top dollar to help a judge like Gorsuch get over the finish line,” Warren says in a Globe op-ed. “But that’s not how our court system is supposed to work. Our courts are supposed to be neutral arbiters, dispensing justice based on the facts and the law — not the party with the most money or political power.”
Well, it’s back to Trump, who New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft is palling around with again. Last month, Kraft attended a Trump dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Over the weekend, Kraft was a special guest on Air Force One as Trump was preparing to leave Florida for Washington, DC., according to wire reports at WCVB. The two even posed with members of the military before boarding Air Force One.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts plans to unveil its legislative agenda today that it says will include pushing back against the "forces of racism, sexism and anti-immigrant sentiment unleashed by the 2016 presidential election,” the AP reports at WCVB (with video). According to the AP, one of its bill would require a warrant for the government to access information about a person's use of their cellphone and computer, while another would prohibit the state from participating in any registration system based on religion, national origin or other protected identity.
The Rev. J. Donald Monan was one of those great local college presidents – along with Tufts University’s Jean Meyer and Boston University’s John Silber, among others – who graced the local higher-education landscape in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and almost single-handedly transformed their respective schools from underperforming universities into top-level institutions. In Monan’s case, he literally rescued Boston College from financial chaos and turned its fortunes -- and national stature – completely around. He died over the weekend at 92. Here are stories on Monan at the Globe and Herald and BC’s The Heights.
Holy Cross’s student newspaper may drop its ‘Crusader’ name
The College of Holy Cross’s student-run newspaper, The Crusader, is considering changing its name after receiving a signed letter from 48 faculty members urging a name change “in response to the growing anti-Muslim tensions in our country, and to the fact that the Ku Klux Klan official newspaper shares the same name as our own,” reports Evan Lips at New Boston Post. The editors seem to be handling the affair well, reaching out to the entire campus to get feedback and hosting meetings. But here’s a question: What about the college’s official mascot and nickname -- the Crusaders? What about that name? Just wondering.
Markey estimates Bay State’s budget hit at $1 billion
From Tyler Pager at the Globe: “President Trump’s proposed budget would strip Massachusetts of nearly $1 billion in federal funding for research, clean energy, education, and social services programs, according to an analysis released Friday by Democratic Senator Ed Markey.” The amount doesn’t include how much the state might gain from increased defense spending.
Amid all the general news about potential federal budget cuts, Shira Schoenberg at MassLive zeroes in on how President Trump’s proposed fiscal blueprint calls for the outright elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program that serves nearly 200,000 Massachusetts residents who rely on it for heating their homes. "The idea that any president would want to eliminate fuel assistance for poor people is very troubling," said Al Norman, head of Mass Home Care. "I don't know if the message is 'we don't care if you freeze to death.’" Schoenberg has more on planned social-service cuts.
From Greg Ryan at the BBJ (pay wall): “When it comes to spending on state-level lobbyists, nobody comes close to the health care industry, a Boston Business Journal analysis of data from the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office has found. The six biggest spenders on lobbyists in 2016 were all from the health care sector, with the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association paying out the most in lobbyist salaries.”
After years of howling, Republican finally caught their ObamaCare car and now don’t know what to do with it. Maybe one day Bay State Democrats will catch their single-payer car – and then do what Vermont did two years ago. Anyway, from Sarah Toy at the Telegram: “In the midst of a messy and contentious battle to replace the Affordable Care Act in Washington, some Massachusetts lawmakers are proposing a solution they believe is long overdue: A single-payer system.”
The Herald has a big front-page piece on former interim U.S. Sen. Mo Cowan, soon to be a top legal gun at General Electric, and how his life-time insider’s privilege of access to the U.S. Senate is a lobbying gold mine for GE.
From the Globe’s Nicole Dungca: “The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority plans to privatize the jobs of many customer service employees in its stations, a move intended to manage costs by shifting some agents to needed roles as subway operators while hiring contractors to interact with riders.Dozens of workers assigned to customers service posts at MBTA stations would be replaced by private-sector ‘ambassadors’ under the plan.”
T doesn’t even know how many people ride commuter rail on weekends
Here’s an interesting story, also from the Globe’s Nicole Dungca, as the MBTA mulls whether to save money by eliminating some weekend rail service: It doesn’t really know how many people ride commuter rails on weekends – and is spending $300,000 to find out. Meanwhile,Matt Stout at the Herald explores an idea that seems to be gaining some traction: How about if the T, assuming it closes some weekend commuter lines, earmarks some of the savings to rider fare discounts?
How about better weekend rail service instead of no weekend service?
Richard Prone, a retired locomotive engineer and Duxbury's representative on the MBTA Advisory Board, blasts the T for mulling possible elimination of weekend rail service instead of looking for ways to boost weekend ridership and revenues with innovative fares and scheduling.
Carmen’s union chief: Pacheco law had nothing to do with recent contract concessions
Still on the subject of the MBTA, James O’Brien, president of the Boston Carmen’s Union, wants to set the record straight: His union did not agree to a new contract with $750 million savings over 25 years because of the Pacheco Law exemption or possible extension. Instead, it was about saving jobs and helping an MBTA “in dire need of investment in its tracks and equipment. And we knew that in order to make those investments, cost savings were needed,” he writes at CommonWealth magazine.
Brockton feels pinch of human services workforce shortage
Human services agencies in the Brockton area say they are already experiencing the impacts of a workforce shortage that a trade group warns will require 25,000 new workers statewide over the next decade, Gerry Tuoti and Tom Relihan of the Enterprise report.
Worcester councilor wants local lobbying regulations
Worcester City Councilor Khrystian E. King is asking his fellow council members to support an effort to enact local regulations on municipal lobbyists, Nick Kotsopolous of the Telegram reports. The regulations—which would require legislative blessing through the home-rule petition process—would mirror those in place on Beacon Hill and require lobbyists doing business with the city to register and publicly report their dealings with city officials.
Will Massachusetts stand alone on gubernatorial secrecy?
A move by lawmakers in Michigan to subject that state’s governor and legislature to existing public records laws could leave Massachusetts standing alone as the only state not to require such disclosures, Kyle Scott Claus of Boston Magazine reports. Michigan’s legislative moves came at the end of Sunshine Week, which is meant to focus attention on the issue of transparency and access in government.
This past Friday we linked to a story about how the city of Greenfield was grappling with the religious overtones of an anonymous donation to the community. We got the city name right. We got the name of the newspaper right. But it was the Greenfield in Indiana, not Massachusetts. Logical mistake, but still embarrassing. Such are the perils of news aggregation.