Today: Rethinking the medicine cabinet
Gov. Baker plans to help launch the MyOldMeds Massachusetts campaign, which will highlight state resources for returning unused medications and provide substance abuse treatment options. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America President and CEO Steve Ubl and Massachusetts Police Chief Association President William Brooks plan to attend. At the Grand Staircase, 11:30 am.
Gov. Baker also is scheduled to be in studio on “NightSide with Dan Rea,” WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 8 pm.
Electrical workers plan to protest National Grid’s “continued push to outsource key work to contractors that could negatively impact public safety” with a standout at the State House. Boston Gas Local 12003 USW authorized leadership to call a strike against National Grid and its contract expires Feb. 28. Massachusetts Jobs with Justice will join the group. It will be held outside the State House, 12 pm.
State employees fill out GOP slate
As Gov. Baker pushes his slate of moderates for GOP state committee seats, about 20 of them are state employees, Shira Schoenberg of MassLive reports. “The state employees running for Republican State Committee include some well-known members of Baker’s administration: Dominick Ianno, chief of staff for the Office of Administration and Finance; David D’Arcangelo, director of the Office on Disability; Ryan Chamberland, director of Baker’s Western Massachusetts office; Laura Rigas, communications director for the Office of Education; and Peter Lorenz, communications director for the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs,” reports Schoenberg. Under state law, state employees are not allowed to raise money for political causes, which some say should be one of the primarily roles of state committee members. http://bit.ly/1QxE5H7
Baker on ‘secret’ donations
“We follow all the rules, Frank, and as you know we follow all the rules.”
—Gov. Baker, in response to a question by Globe reporter Frank Phillips on disclosing the source of donations Baker has solicited for GOP state committee races. More here via the State House News Service: http://bit.ly/1Qx5glE
Baker promises MBTA OT crackdown
Gov. Baker reacted to revelations of loose overtime practices at the MBTA, saying, “I do think a lot of it has to do with how things were done. And things aren’t going to be done like that going forward,” Baker said, according to Matt Stout’s story in the Boston Herald. The highest earner on the T payroll was signing off on his own overtime on the way to making $327,000 last year. Overtime this year is has been reduced, Stout reports. http://bit.ly/1PZdgyo
Joyce won’t seek reelection
Sen. Brian Joyce said yesterday he would not seek reelection on the same day that a state representative in his district announced his intentions to run for the seat. “I have worked hard for Milton and achieved results, while always trying to abide by the rules. I will continue to work hard for Milton and all of the district but will not seek re-election,” Joyce said in a statement. Joyce was the subject of a Boston Globe report in January that explored a controversial, 10-year arrangement he engaged in for dry cleaning. Last week Joyce’s law offices were raided by the FBI and IRS. More from Matt Murphy of the State House News Service. http://bit.ly/1R0SM6j
Bill would expand death benefit for state workers
Lawmakers are considering a bill to expand benefits for state and local government workers killed in the line of duty, reports Christian Wade, State House reporter for several North Shore dailies, including the Salem News. “Legislation filed by Rep. Jay Livingstone, D-Boston — and backed by lawmakers including Reps. Frank Moran and Marcos Devers, both Lawrence Democrats — offer the one-time $150,000 payment as a death benefit to the families of any state or local government worker,” Wade reports. Current law awards payment to police, firefighters and paramedics killed in the line of duty. http://bit.ly/1TFlcbX
City Sports brand revival
Two New Jersey brothers who run a soccer retail company have bought the City Sports brand and plan to start operating an e-commerce site within weeks and open a brick-and-mortar store by the end of the year, the Globe’s Jon Chesto reports. http://bit.ly/1QxB5KY
Baker still undecided
Less than a week before the March 1 state primary, Gov. Charlie Baker says he still hasn’t decided who will get his vote for the GOP Presidential nomination, Gintautas Dumcius of MassLive reports. Baker did say it’s “unlikely” he’ll vote for frontrunner Donald Trump. http://bit.ly/1S0KAI2
Diehl backs Trump
Trump did get his first endorsement from an elected Republican in the Bay State on Tuesday, with State Rep. Geoff Diehl of Whitman— a lead crusader in the effort to repeal automatic increases in the state’s gas tax—saying he’d back the real estate mogul, Garrett Quinn of Boston Magazine reports.http://bit.ly/1p2lGwn
‘Rattlesnake Island’ gets a hearing
State wildlife officials laid out the rationale behind their plan to create a colony of timber rattlesnakes on the largest island in the Quabbin Reservoir to a crowd of about 200 Tuesday, assuring residents there will be no danger to the public, Bob McGovern of the Herald reports. Officials said the snakes will have monitoring devices implanted and that the first snakes would be located to the island early in 2017. http://bit.ly/1mXbOCq
Galvin upholds decision to keep Jones video from public
Secretary of State William Galvin says Foxboro police acted property when they withheld surveillance video that showed Patriots player Chandler Jones as he arrived at the town’s public safety complex to seek medical attention after apparently ingesting synthetic marijuana, Colman Herman of CommonWealth Magazine reports. Galvin cited the privacy exemptions in the state’s public records law as a valid reason to withhold the video, which both the Herald and New England Cable News had sought. http://bit.ly/1TyEsXs
BPD keeps cellphone tracker use in the dark
The Boston Police Department is refusing to shed light on its use of secret cellphone trackers and is adhering to a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI that shields the information even from judges who are being asked to grant search warrants, according to a piece by Shawn Musgrave of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting published by the Globe and other outlets. The practice that has drawn the ire of privacy advocates and civil liberties groups has forced other jurisdictions to reveal how they use the tools. http://bit.ly/1mXa9ws
Worcester may tie tax breaks to ‘living wage’
The Worcester City Council is considering amending its policy toward granting tax increment financing agreements to require that workers who receive jobs created on projects that receive the property tax breaks be paid at least $15 an hour, Steven H. Foskett Jr. of the Telegram reports. http://bit.ly/1PZlWVF
How ‘Spotlight’ changed the legislative process
Rep. Antonio Cabral recalls in a CommonWealth Magazine piece how the reporting of the Boston Globe’s investigative team, highlighted in the Academy Award-nominated ‘Spotlight’ movie helped a bill adding priests and other clergy to the ranks of mandated reporters of child abuse—one that had languished in the past—move quickly through the legislature. “[T]he Globe stories changed everything,” the New Bedford Democrat writes. http://bit.ly/1La7sTU
Tall order at the White House
It’s no question that many people when they meet Gov. Charlie Baker are often forced to look up – and that includes President Barack Obama. At a Tuesday event celebrating the passage of Race Amity Day, Baker, who’s back from his whirlwind trip to D.C. where he attended meetings with his fellow state executives and dined with the Obamas, shared this comical exchange he and First Lady Lauren Baker had while at the White House:
“We got upstairs and did the photo line and got our picture taken with the President and the First Lady and my wife was complaining as we line up for the picture about being so short relative to the President and First Lady and me. The president looked at her and said ‘you’re not short he’s just crazy tall,’ ” Baker said.
Baker stands 6 feet 6 inches tall, according to a Boston Globe item printed during the 2014 campaign, which is a full five inches above the Commander in Chief. —Antonio Caban, State House News Service
Today: Guv at White House
Gov. Baker joins other governors visiting Washington for a meeting with President Obama, followed by a press conference. 10:30 a.m.
Senate President Stanley Rosenberg joins Jim Braude and Margery Eagan in studio for an interview on Boston Public Radio. WGBH-FM 89.7 and 1 Guest St., Brighton, 11 am.
The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board reviews a report on bus maintenance — an area T officials have already highlighted as a cost driver – receive an update on an audit of MBTA overtime and hear an update on the commuter rail vendor’s improvement plan. 10 Park Plaza, 2nd floor conference rooms, Boston, 12 pm.
U.S. Senator and Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders hosts a rally at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. According to an advisory, topics Sanders plans to discuss include “getting big money out of politics, combating climate change and making college affordable.” William D. Mullins Memorial Center, University of Massachusetts, 200 Commonwealth Avenue, Amherst, 4:30 pm.
Trump Effect stirs GOP fears
As Donald Trump continues to cruise toward the Republican nomination, others in the GOP are beginning to worry about the damage that could be left in his wake with other contests on the state level. “Polls have shown him performing poorly among women and minority voters, two groups the party needs to attract in greater numbers than it has in recent elections,” reports the Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan from Washington, where national governors associations were meeting this weekend. http://bit.ly/1Q4bkTk
Legalization lessons from Colorado
Legalization of marijuana is a mixed bag, reports Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe, who recently spent some time in Colorado, where the substance, in various forms, has been legal since 2014. Legalization brought in $135 million in tax revenue last year in Colorado while the state has the highest youth rate of marijuana use in the country. And there’s been an uptick in the number of kids admitted to the ER for accidentally eating THC-infused marijuana. http://bit.ly/1RW6dcu
IndyCar racing infrastructure arriving
The controversial IndyCar race, tentatively scheduled to roar through South Boston over Labor Day weekend, already has begun storing large barriers as Grand Prix of Boston prepares for the event. The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports the organizers have secured a short-term lease at the Marine Industrial Park in South Boston to store the concrete barriers.
Baker lags in implementing nursing home regs
The track record of nursing home company Synergy Health Centers, the New Jersey based firm that operates 11 nursing homes in Massachusetts, has made clear the need for additional regulations, writes blogger HesterPrynne. But the Baker administration has been slow in producing them as the administration continues its regulatory review. …“It was difficult to avoid the conclusion that protecting Synergy Health Centers from meddlesome governmental regulators was more important to the Baker administration than protecting elderly and disabled nursing home residents from Synergy Health Centers.” http://bit.ly/20PRhNw
New container bill would do away with Bottle Bill
The food and beverage industry endorses a new bill that would end the 5-cent bottle bill and replace it with a 1-cent container bill, one that would generate an estimated $135 million per year to go towards expanding curbside recycling. However, environmental groups say it would have a negative impact on municipal recycling programs. “Supporters of the measure, which is backed by the food and beverage industry, say the changes would boost recycling by more than 30 percent, reduce landfill waste and create more than 3,000 new jobs while reducing carbon emissions,” the Christian Wade, State House reporter for the Newburyport Times, reports. However, not everyone is as certain the new program would work. “The reality is the bottle deposit system is the most effective recycling tool in the state, if not the country,” executive director of the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group Janet Domenitz said.
Puppy mills target of pet sale bill
Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley wants to ban pet stores from selling puppies, kittens and bunnies. The ban is intended to stop pet stories from selling animals from breeding mills. O’Malley said there are 120 municipalities that have a similar ban including Chicago and Los Angeles. Not everyone agrees with the ban. “I don’t see the logic here,” said Jim Gentile, owner of The Pet Shop in Brighton said to Brian Dowling of the Boston Herald. “I don’t see it helping. Does Weymouth or Cambridge sell bunnies? Are you pushing customers over the city limits?”
Financial engineering costing the T
The MBTA carries over $5 billion in debt, some of it at floating rates that it has hedged with derivatives called swaps, which basically are insurance against a sudden rise in rates. Those swaps, given the low interest rate environment, are costing the T about $26 million per year extra in interest, reports the Globe’s Beth Healy. The T is considering exiting some of its swap deals with Deutche Bank, which would cost $30 million. http://bit.ly/1TzZaY8
EPA orders costly cleanup in Charles River towns
The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to issue regulations forcing communities along the Charles River to spend millions to prevent contaminated runoff, David Abel of the Globe reports. While the Federal government says it will help defray some of the costs, municipalities are expecting to spend millions to comply with the new rules. Franklin alone expects to spend $62 million over the next 20 years. http://bit.ly/1OpBnlG
Towns lament ABCC overrules
Several towns in Central Massachusetts say their attempts to punish liquor license holders for selling alcohol to minors are being thwarted by the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, which often overturns local rulings on appeal, sometimes twice in the same case, Susan Spencer of the Telegram reports. The ABCC says the communities have overreached in cases where violations are identified through sting operations. http://bit.ly/1XHJmSk
Is history in Brian Joyce’s corner?
Amid calls for the expulsion of Sen. Brian Joyce, Matt Stout of the Herald reports in his Pols and Politics column that the Massachusetts Senate rarely forces its members out, last doing so in 1977 and only then acting after the senator was convicted of extortion. Before that, the most recent example of state senators throwing one of their own out dates to 1913. http://bit.ly/1Tu7I1n
Making the case for Deval
WGBH’s Callie Crossley lays out reasons why Gov. Deval Patrick makes sense to be President Obama’s choice to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia. Crossley: Some of her arguments: Patrick has never openly coveted a court seat, which would allow him to “keep his cool” during tough confirmation hearings. And even if the Senate rejected him, the experience could help raise his profile nationally. http://bit.ly/1QtfMtY
Is a Romney endorsement coming?
Reports that circulated over the weekend that former and two-time presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney would endorse Marco Rubio are being called “false,” Boston.com’s Nik DeCosta-Klipa of Boston.com reports. Rubio himself said no endorsement was in the offing—though he said he’d welcome it — and others report that Romney will likely wait until later in the nomination contest to anoit a candidate. http://bit.ly/1QUPT6W
Today: Remembering Iwo Jima survivors
Marine Corps League Metrowest Detachment 1037 hosts a ceremony honoring those who survived the carnage of the Battle of Iwo Jima more than 70 years ago. After fighting across the Pacific Ocean, the United States military wrenched the island away from Japanese forces over 36 days of a battle that killed 6,800 American and 19,000 Japanese fighters, according to the U.S. Marine Corps History Division. A collation with lunch and refreshments in the Great Hall follows the ceremony, Memorial Hall, 11 am.
No fare: For commuters, a day of deja vu
Yet another commuting meltdown enveloped the much of the commuter rail yesterday, this time from a failed signal between South Station and Back Bay Station. The signal is maintained by Amtrak, making a cameo in local transportation malfeasance. Innocent commuters, as always, took it on the chin.
Until a year ago, a widescale systemic breakdown like this would barely merit a mention in the media. It was business as usual, no story here. After last winter’s epic snows severely crippled the entire commuting system and transportation became the dominant public policy story in the region, now even minor delays receive coverage. The Globe dispatched transportation reporter Nicole Dungca and three other staff to cover yesterday’s signal failure and ensuing chaos. They talked to commuters, and guess what? They’re pissed off. Pressure from the media and the riding public that consistently points out the embedded flaws in our second-rate public transportation system will help drive improvements.
The T needs money. Yesterday, Gov. Baker, speaking on Boston Public Radio, defended raising fares the way to fix the T. We beg to differ. A nearly 10 percent fare increase would raise about $50 million. The T pays over $420 million in debt service annually. Until the $8 billion in principal and interest the T carries on its books are restructured, fare increases will be a drop in the bucket and won’t move the needle on service reliability. The T also needs to secure a new, significant revenue streams to address the $7 billion plus in deferred maintenance and to build for the future.
Yesterday and today’s delays are being presented as an aberration. They’re not. They’re part of a persistent pattern that management reforms and fare hikes can’t solve alone. Good news: The T announced this morning that the signal has been fixed. http://bit.ly/1TttRhr
While it was a bad day for commuters, we learned just how bad the year was for Keolis, the commuter rail operator. The company lost $29.3 million in its first year of operation, reports Andy Metzger of the State House News Service. “My sense is that it has been a more costly endeavor than Keolis assumed going into it,” commented Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. http://bit.ly/21ddU0v
Rosenberg: Joyce deserves due process
Senate members said Sen. Brian Joyce, whose law office was raided yesterday by FBI and IRS agents, would not call for his resignation, saying the legal process should be allowed to play out.
“I don’t rush to judgment, especially in a situation like this,” Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said. “An individual’s reputation, integrity is on the line. It affects himself, his family, his constituency, his career.” More on the perspective of other Senators and the pressure Joyce faces by the Globe’s David Scharfenberg. http://bit.ly/1PJx0pE
Senate President Rosenberg reinforced his position when he was presented with a letter outside his office calling for Sen. Joyce’s resignation by Paul Craney, executive director of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.
“We’re asking you to take the lead and show the rest of your colleagues that this behavior isn’t tolerated, and only you can do that,” Craney said to Rosenberg. “As of right now, everyone is looking at you and saying, ‘What is allowed under this Legislature?'”
“We have very high ethical standards. If the ethical standards have been violated, then the Senate will take action,” Rosenberg responded.
The debate was captured on video by the State House News Service’s Antonio Caban, and can be seen on the SHNS’s Youtube channel: http://bit.ly/1oOZg1w
Data breaches affect over 1.3 million Mass. residents
The growing volume of compromised personal data affected 1.3 million Massachusetts residents last year, a fourfold increase from 2014, reports the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes. The single breach was at Anthem Inc., the health insurer where 78 million customers’ personal information was compromised, including over 650,000 in Massachusetts. http://bit.ly/1oOU51q
Yes, they’re watching: Employee monitoring grows
Software that tracks employees’ computer activities is increasingly being adopted in the workplace, as, we all know, the temptations multiply beyond Facebook and other social media, writes Katie Johnston of the Globe. “Other major time wasters: fantasy sports and cat videos. One company that started monitoring workers’ computers discovered they spent 80 hours watching feline hijinks in a single month, said New York human resources consultant Corinne Jones.” The monitoring is legal, although Sen. Marc Pacheco has introduced a bill to require employers to inform employees about their electronic eavesdropping. http://bit.ly/24e1KXE
MassHousing hires director in 10 minutes
The Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency deliberated for just 10 minutes before naming a new executive director last month, Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth Magazine reports, citing minutes of the January meeting. The board entered executive session to discuss hiring “strategy’ — the topic was not on the board’s agenda for that day — but instead emerged and voted in favor of hiring Chief Financial Officer Timothy Sullivan to helm the agency. In contrast, it took MassPort over a year to find its next leader, Mohl notes. http://bit.ly/24e2wnh
Who’s backing whom on Beacon Hill
The Lowell Sun’s Kyle Plantz does a roll call of known Presidential endorsements on Beacon Hill and finds most Democratic Lowell-area lawmakers firm behind Hillary Clinton and a more varied set of endorsements on the GOP side. http://bit.ly/1oskK3P
Charter waiting list at 34,000
State education officials say the number of students on waiting lists to enter charter schools shrunk by 8 percent last year but still stands at 34,000, Kara Bettis of the New Boston Post reports. Although the state auditor and others have questioned the data, charter supporters say it demonstrates the need to lift the state’s cap on charters. http://bit.ly/1RTisX8
Curtatone girds for battle with Wynn
Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone said he won’t back down from what he expects to be a “vicious” campaign against his city from Wynn Resorts, which says the mayor’s decision to appeal an environmental permit would cost it $55 million a month, Brian Dowling of the Herald reports. “No amount of public harassment from Wynn is enough to stop us from addressing this issue,” he said.http://bit.ly/1Q57Pj0
Globe columnist Shirley Leung weighs in on the Somerville-Wynn issue, questioning the logic of Curatone’s legal action. “It’s a ridiculous claim considering that the 5.7 million square feet planned at the work-live-play Assembly Row development in Somerville would be nearly twice as big as the Wynn casino.” http://bit.ly/1PWbNa1
Worker says Baker team strong-armed her
A state employee is accusing the Baker administration of using strong-arm political tactics to get her to back a Baker-chosen candidate for the state Republican committee, the Globe’s Frank Phillips reports. The Baker administration says no pressure has been applied, but Lisa Barstow, a GOP state committeewoman and director of community relations at the Department of Conservation and Recreation, said in an email peppered with all caps that the “hard anvil of the corner office came down on me with vengeance and no mercy” to get her to back candidate Peter Lorenz. http://bit.ly/1owQVzx
Connecticut study may be boon for MGM
MGM Springfield got some potentially good news from across the border in Connecticut, where a lawmaker wants to commission a study on whether the state should authorities a third tribal casino located just over the Massachusetts border, Dan Glaun of MassLive reports. The partnership of the state’s two Indian tribes, however, says no more study is needed and plans to move forward with plans to review proposals already submitted. http://bit.ly/1Qq1kD0
Sunday public affairs TV
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV, 8:30 am. Congressman Stephen Lynch discussing war with ISIS, US foreign policy and the presidential race
DC Dialogue, NECN, 10 am, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D) MA and political analyst Scott Spradling
On the Record, WCVB-TV, 11 am: Rep. Mike Capuano who discuss Green Line expansion as well as the nomination process for a new Supreme Court Justice.
This Week in Business, NECN, 12:30 pm, Mass Gaming Commission Chairman Steve Crosby and Greater Boston Chamber CEO Jim Rooney
Inside the Brand, NECN, 1 pm. Hosts Roger Berkowitz and Larry Gulko get inside stories from Dave and Busters CEO Dolf Berle and Polar Beverages CEO Ralph Crowley about their brands and how they evolve.
CEO Corner, NECN, 8:30 pm Boston Celtics President Rich Gotham and Putnam Investments CEO Bob Reynolds give us an inside look into their major multi-year marketing agreement.