National legislative conference, bridge project update, ‘Inconvenient Sequel’
The National Conference of State Legislatures annual convention continues, with sessions on agriculture, the federal budget, education and ‘marijuana federalism,’ Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, 415 Summer St., starting at 7:30 a.m. and through the day. ... U.S. Sen. Edward Markey holds a town hall forum to talk with constituents in Springfield, Forest Park Middle School, 46 Oakland Street, Springfield, 6 p.m. ... Department of Energy Resources holds a public hearing on draft regulations around the Alternative Portfolio Standards, Holyoke Community College, Kittredge Center, 303 Homestead Ave., Holyoke, 10 a.m. ... Department of Transportation holds a news conference to provide an update on the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Project, including the return of I-90 to its normal lane configuration ahead of schedule, 807 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, 11:30 a.m. ... Hyde Square Task Force teenagers who discovered that TD Garden's owners hadn't been following a civic fundraising agreement are interviewed on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m. ... U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a guest on ‘Greater Boston’ and will discuss the battle over health care reform, her legislative record and her future plans, WGBH-TV, Ch2, 7 p.m. ... The Senate and House Committees on Global Warming and Climate Change, in collaboration with Climate Reality Massachusetts and Participant Media, host a VIP screening of former Vice President Al Gore's new film, ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,’ AMC Loews Boston Common 19, 175 Tremont St., Boston, 8 p.m.
Impressive: DOT reopens Pike lanes three weeks early
The Massachusetts Turnpike, which had reduced Pike lanes in recent weeks due to the massive Commonwealth Avenue Bridge replacement project in Boston, has reopened all four lanes in both directions as of today – three weeks earlier than expected, reports Fox 25 Boston and other media outlets. It’s very welcome news for commuters. And a very impressive performance by transportation officials and workers.
Burning question: Are wood products really a renewable-energy source?
From the Globe’s David Abel: “The Baker administration plans to designate a fuel derived from felling trees and clearing brush in forests as a form of renewable energy, a move that environmental advocates say would increase emissions and counter promises the governor made after President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord.”
Bankers caught in marijuana ‘gray area’ between feds and state
Here’s a dilemma for bankers and insurers: Should they do business with future pot retailers and commercial marijuana growers in Massachusetts, amid disagreement between the state and federal government over the legalization of marijuana here and elsewhere? Greylock Federal Credit Union, which has 12 branches in Berkshire County, is among those not sure what to do, reports the Herald’s Jack Encarnacao.
Speaking of legalized marijuana: Gov. Charlie Baker late last week finally appointed his five members to the new Massachusetts’ Cannabis Advisory Board, reports WCVB. Next up: Appointments by Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg and elected officials to the full-time, five-member marijuana commission that will actually oversee the new industry in Massachusetts, reports the Associated Press at US News. Those appointments are due September 1.
Bipartisan bliss: Charlie, Bob and Stan sing the praises of working together
At the National Conference of State Legislatures conference over the weekend in Boston, Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg, both Democrats, touted how working in a bi-partisan fashion is indeed possible these days in Massachusetts – and the trio deplored the partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C., reports the Globe’s Catie Edmondson and the Herald’s Laurel Sweet.
Bipartisan bliss, II: But it’s Baker who has to do most of the relationship juggling
Sure, there may be bipartisan bliss at the State House. But it’s usually Gov. Charlie Baker balancing the demands of the relationship – pleasing liberals here, appeasing conservatives there, especially on health care and immigration. Work, work, work. WBUR’s Shannon Dooling has more on the Republican governor’s never-ending balancing act.
Republicans now control 34 of 50 governorships across the country, but, theoretically, the Democrats should be able to cut into that lead considering the unpopularity of President Trump heading into next year’s mid-term elections. But it won’t be easy for Democrats, partly because some Republican governors in traditional blue states – including Charlie Baker in Massachusetts and Phil Scott in Vermont – are quite popular, reports the Washington Post’s Dan Balz.
Still no word on exactly why Felix G. Arroyo, Mayor Walsh’s chief of health and human services, has been put on paid leave amid an internal City Hall investigation. But that hasn’t stopped Arroyo’s supporters and detractors from anonymously whispering their personal opinions about Arroyo to the Globe’s Meghan Irons.
Here’s an oddity: A weekend look by the NYT at the emerging presidential field in 2020 – and not one of the pols mentioned is from Massachusetts. That’s because the story is about Republicans who are quietly positioning themselves for a possible bid in case President Trump won’t, or can’t, run in 2020. Among those who are reportedly eyeing a White House bid are Ohio Gov. John Kasich, U.S. Senators Tom Cotton and Ben Sasse, and Vice President Mike Pence, who is slamming the Times report as “disgraceful and offensive,” Kimberly Atkins at the Herald reports.
How the EB-5 visa program morphed into a funding mechanism for luxury condos in Seaport
Focusing in on the financing for the new $900 million Echelon Seaport development, the Globe’s Tim Logan explores how the federal government’s EB-5 visa program, which grants a green card to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in businesses that create jobs, has capitalized on the high jobless rate in Boston’s poorest neighborhoods to qualify for federal financial perks to build in not-so-poor Seaport. Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin says developers are effectively engaging in a form of government-subsidy gerrymandering.
Gloucester may skip preliminary election because … it has candidates?
The city of Gloucester may ask state lawmakers to let it bypass a September preliminary election—and save the $17,000 it would cost—at least in part because two of the three candidates for mayor seem to have little chance of actually winning. Ray Lamont of the Gloucester Times reports that incumbent Sefatia Romeo Theken is facing challenges from 21-time candidate Daniel Ruberti—who collected 44 votes in 2015—and Francisco Sclafani, who finished the 2015 preliminary with 27 votes out of more than 6,000 cast.
In Lawrence mayoral race, financial filings are few and fuzzy between
Half of the dozen candidates for mayor in Lawrence have failed to file even a single financial disclosure form with the state Office of Campaign and Political finance, Keith Eddings of the Eagle-Tribune reports. And those that have been filed appear to be somewhat lacking in the accuracy department, especially those of – drumroll, please -- former mayor Daniel William Lantingua.
No, no, no, says Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren, who insists the immigrant-detainer ordinance he signed as mayor of Newton is fundamentally different from the immigrant-detainer law that Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is proposing. Warren says Newton’s law follows due process, while the Governor’s proposal is “un-American.” The administration isn’t buying Warren’s distinction. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl has the details.
Capuano: Targeting pro-life Dems is ‘crazy … nuts’
U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, a pro-choice Democrat from Somerville, says former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is “crazy” for even suggesting that the Democratic Party withhold support for pro-life Dems. “That’s crazy, that’s crazy, that’s nuts,” Capuano told Boston Herald Radio last week.
How the heck did Newton end up with a biased Israeli-Palestinian curriculum?
Richard Baehr, writing at Israel Hayom, looks at what kids are learning in schools about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and he doesn’t like what he sees, particularly in Newton, a heavily Jewish community, where some say the curriculum is clearly biased against Israel. Bottom line: Blame Harvard.
UMass Lowell’s campus police department hired retired New Hampshire police officers, enabling them to qualify for pensions in two states and blocking the promotions of other employees in the process, a pending lawsuit alleges. According to a report by Todd Feathers at the Lowell Sun, the suit was brought by two former university employees who say they were fired because they tried to blow the whistle on the behavior of what became known as “team New Hampshire” within the department.
Despite pay raises, lawmakers collect $67,000 in per diems
Lawmakers voted for a pay-raise package earlier this year – and voted to phase out travel stipends in the process. But the pay raises took effect immediately while the per-diem perks end next year. Net result: $67,000 in per-diem payouts this year, reports the Herald’s Hillary Chabot.
Norman Rockwell relatives to philanthropists: Help save the paintings!
Geoffrey Rockwell, a grandson of painter Norman Rockwell, and Margaret Rockwell write in the Globe that the Berkshire Museum is making a huge mistake in trying to sell off two Norman Rockwell paintings – and they openly express hope that some rich philanthropists will step forward to help keep the paintings in the Berkshires.