Cellphone driving restrictions, pregnant workers act, net metering and more ...
The Senate meets in formal session with plans to vote on a proposed ban on holding cellphones while driving and the proposed pregnant workers fairness act. ... Higher Education Committee reviews Treasurer Deb Goldberg’s proposal requiring UMass to develop a pilot program to provide students with an estimate of their total outstanding or pending student loan debt, Room A-1, 10 a.m. ... Massachusetts State Retirement Boardmeets, One Winter St. - 8th floor, Boston, 10 a.m. ... Gov. Charlie Baker meets with students at Match Beyond makes an announcement about an upcoming conference on digital learning, 50 Milk Street, 11 a.m. ... U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12:30 p.m. ... Department of Public Utilities holds a public hearing on its investigation intonet metering for distribution company customers, Hearing Room C, One South Station, 2 p.m. ...Gov. Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito to accept the presentation of a Peace Quilt from students from the Groton Community School, Grand Staircase, 3 p.m.
How in heaven’s name did a Globe reporter get hold of a personal, hand-written letter from Seth Moulton to Nancy Pelosi, profusely thanking the House Democratic leader for all she’s done for him, before the Salem Congressman turned against her late last year? We can’t imagine. Anyway, Moulton, who’s now angling to oust Pelosi, tells the Globe’s Annie Linskey that his gushing ‘Dear Nancy’ letter “never once” thanked her for her leadership and that there’s “no intellectual dissonance” between what he said then and what he’s saying now.
Dems fighting Dems, Part II: Capuano may face Cambridge rival in battle over progressive purity
The Globe’s Joshua Miller reports that Cambridge City Councilor Nadeem A. Mazen, the state’s highest-profile Muslim elected official, is planning a run against U. S. Rep. Michael Capuano in next year’s Democratic primary, setting up a battle between two progressives.
With Seth battling Nancy and with Brianna going after Steve and with Mazen taking on Capuano, so much for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s recent call for Dems to stop fighting amongst themselves.
That was easy: Staples Inc. purchased by private equity firm for $6.9B
This is a big local business story that doesn’t end with yesterday’s announcement that Framingham-based Staples Inc. will be acquired by private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $6.9 billion, as reported by the BBJ’s David Harris. The hard part comes with figuring out how the struggling Staples survives moving forward. Brockton-based W.B. Mason’s office-supplies model of mostly selling online may serve as a possible guide.
Herald: Healey’s office ‘whitewashed’ actions of prosecutors in state-chemist case
From the Herald’s Jack Encarnacao: “A review ordered up last year by Attorney General Maura Healey whitewashed two of her prosecutors for how they handled cases involving a drug-addled western Massachusetts state chemist — even though it revealed the same evidence that led a judge to accuse the two of gross misconduct this week.” Let’s put it this way: Judge Richard J. Carey was not at all happy with the assistant AGs' conduct.
DOT employee suspended after crashing state car and getting arrested on OUI charge
From SHNS’s Matt Murphy at the Globe: "A MassDOT electrician arrested Wednesday for allegedly driving under the influence in Providence has been suspended without pay after he reportedly struck multiple cars in his state-owned vehicle after leaving a North Attleboro job site, according to an official's account. " So what do you think he was doing in Providence?
House bill would strip sanctuary cities of federal funds
While most attention has been focused on the Supreme Court’s recent actions regarding President Trump’s travel ban, Republican House leaders in Washington have had their eye on local cities and towns that have declared themselves sanctuary cities – and a White House-backed bill expected to pass today would strip federal grants from sanctuary cities in Massachusetts and elsewhere, reports the Herald’s Kimberly Atkins and Dan Atkinson. U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano is blasting the planned House move.
As the battle rages over immigration in the U.S., Jonathan Tepperman, managing editor of Foreign Affairs, has a smart column about the “ruthlessly smart” merit-based immigration policy of Canada, where the decades-old approach toward immigration is actually quite popular.
This isn’t as bad as Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury signing with the Yankees, but it does raise eyebrows, via Greg Ryan at the BBJ: “Alicia Barton, a Foley Hoag LLP attorney who led efforts to develop Massachusetts’ clean-energy technology industry under the Patrick and Baker administrations, is headed to New York to build up the same sector in that state.”
Dem gubernatorial candidates slam Baker for not filing a revised budget
Democratic gubernatorial candidates Setti Warren and Jay Gonzalez are going after Gov. Charlie Baker for not filing a revised state budget, even though economists say the administration’s revenue estimates for next year’s budget may be off by as much as $1 billion. SHNS’s Matt Murphy at CommonWealth has the details.
Baker administration unveils its capital-spending goodies
Have at it, lawmakers, school administrators, city and town officials and others. The Baker administration yesterday unveiled its much-anticipated $2.26 billion capital-spending plan for next fiscal year. Via Colin Young at SHNS (pay wall), it includes, among other things, $161 million for higher education facilities, $122.5 million for Department of Conservation and Recreation facilities and parks, $47.1 million for energy renewal projects, $34.6 million for deferred maintenance for state facilities and systems, $15 million for IT security improvements and, possibly, $59.4 million for a new Lowell court facility, and $4.5 million for the state archives building.
Separately, the state’s recent S&P credit downgrade has not yet had a significant impact on the cost of borrowing for the state, the administration told lawmakers yesterday, SHNS’s Colin Young reports at the BBJ. The key words appear to be “not yet.”
Friedman’s road to victory ran through Lexington
Cindy Friedman can thank the voters of Lexington for her narrow win on Tuesday in the Dem primary election to fill the vacant seat of late Sen. Kenneth Donnelly. Her chief rival, Rep. Sean Garballey, may have carried Woburn and Arlington, but she won Lexington by a 6.5-1 margin, reports Caitlyn Kelleher at Wicked Local.
Mayor Marty Walsh last year quietly intervened to avert a strike by nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. What’s he doing now about a potential strike by nurses at Tufts Medical Center? The Globe’s Joan Vennochi says a nurses strike at Tufts must be averted, particularly if nurses, as their union has vowed, attempt to inflict as much pain as possible on Tufts, i.e. striking on particularly busy surgery days.
Worcester cuts $475K check to panhandle-case lawyers
Taxpayers can’t love this news: Worcester on Wednesday cut a $475,000 check to pay for lawyers who represented the ACLU in court fights against the city’s aggressive moves to curb panhandling. Brad Petrishen of the Telegram reports the amount was negotiated down by $45,000, but that—and the fact that the ACLU and its lawyers had originally sought almost $1 million in legal fees—has to be small comfort for those footing the bill.
What a difference three letters can make. The Greater Springfield Visitors and Convention Bureau and its partners have tweaked its re-brand for the region, opting to go with Western Mass after its first effort, West Mass, was roundly and sometimes harshly panned, Scott Merzbach of the Hampshire Gazette reports. Question: Did they hire a consultant to arrive at this decision?
Walsh’s war chest makes De Blasio’s look like a puny piggy bank
Mayor Walsh’s fundraising prowess isn’t just exceeding that of the late Mayor Thomas Menino, as the Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan noted yesterday. His bulging war chest is bigger than those of other big-city mayors, including New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, another incumbent mayor preparing to run for his second term, reports Isaiah Thompson at WGBH.
Alcohol Task Force wants to hear from you – ‘yes, you,’ techies
BostInno, which covers the beer beat almost as much as does the local tech scene, seems rather excited that Treasurer Deb Goldberg’s Alcohol Task Force is reaching out to the public as it forms new working groups to review the industry’s regulatory framework. “That means, you – yes, you – could sit on one of these groups and make your voice heard,” writes BostInno’s Alex Weaver, who points to a state online survey that applicants must complete first.
From Jordan Graham at the Herald: “Employees of Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity company with U.S. headquarters in Woburn, have been approached by federal investigators, the company confirmed, as authorities scrutinize the company’s ties to Russia.”
State beaches are in peril due to repeated DCR cuts
Paul Grogan, head of the Boston Foundation, and Patricia A. Foley, president of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, bemoan cuts over the years at the Department of Conservation and Recreation that they say are threatening the quality of state beaches mostly used by blue-collar communities – and they’re asking lawmakers to restore funds to DCR.
‘Owner of giant lobster says TSA photo was an invasion of privacy’
He has a point. A Georgia man who transported a 20-pound lobster via a cooler through Logan Airport is furious that a TSA agent snapped a photo of the crustacean wonder and then posted it online for all to see, reports WBZ-TV. “I felt it was a huge invasion of my privacy,” Christopher Stracuzza wrote in a Facebook message. But then he sort of undercuts his privacy argument by ... releasing a photo of the cooked lobster after he got home.
The Massachusetts economy continues to create jobs but wages are stagnant or even shrinking and the state’s economists are trying to solve the puzzle, Jim Kinney of MassLive reports. In Mass Benchmarks, an economic journal, experts cite everything from technology to the rise of the gig economy for the apparent paradox.
A record 1 million people could hit Mass. roads over the Fourth
Take this as a friendly pre-holiday warning, via Mary Whitfill at Wicked Local: “For the first time, the number of people expected to travel by car in Massachusetts (over the holiday) is topping 1 million, which is likely to mean bumper-to-bumper traffic and inflated drive times. ‘We are definitely going to break a record there,’ said Mary Maguire, director of public and government affairs at AAA Southern New England.”