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Cold calls | Free spender | Confusion reigns

TDI - Vermont
Happening Today
Alternative energy portfolio standards, cannabis regulations

-- New alternative energy portfolio standard (APS) regulations will be promulgated Friday, providing credits for woody biomass heating. 

-- The Cannabis Control Commission must file its draft marijuana regulations, approved unanimously on Dec. 21, by the end of the day in order to be able to hold its planned public hearings on the rules.

Today's Stories
With frigid weather, energy demand and prices spike

It’s all about supply and demand. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Frigid low temperatures are pushing up energy demand across New England, sending the price of natural gas soaring and prompting many of the region’s power generators to switch from gas to oil. The conditions are somewhat reminiscent of the polar vortex that enveloped the region in the winter of 2014 and prompted the debate about whether the region needs more pipeline capacity to keep natural gas prices in check.” Fyi: CNBC reports natural gas futures have spiked 13 percent in the last week alone.

But it’s not just natural gas (and thus electricity too): Heating oil demand is also spiking as furnaces work overtime to keep homes and businesses warm. That’s putting financial pressure on those who can least afford it, according to an AP report at ABC News.

Think we got it bad? Quit whining

OK, so the temperature will hover near zero this morning in most of Massachusetts, according to the Globe. But in Minnesota, temperatures have dropped to 37 below zero, as the northern Midwest gets hammered by the cold, according to the AP at Yahoo.

Still, it’s indeed frigid here in New England, such as in New Hampshire, where, on average, it was recently colder than in Antarctica and Siberia, according to NH1 News. Temperatures on N.H.’s Mount Washington hit minus 34 degrees on Thursday morning, a daily record, the Globe reports.

Plymouth DA: Why accept free help when you can spend $2.4M?

Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz has paid $2.4 million to Boston law firm Mintz Levin to defend his office against a wrongful termination lawsuit—work the office of Attorney General Maura Healey had offered to do for free, Todd Wallack of the Globe reports. The case was recently settled after several years of legal jousting for just under $250,000, meaning the legal fees were nearly 10 times the cost of the payout. Cruz is up for re-election in 2018. 

Boston Globe
Heroux finally resigns, setting stage for another special election

He really didn’t want to do it, but he finally did it. From SHNS’s Michael Norton: “Fifty-one days after winning election as mayor of Attleboro, Rep. Paul Heroux has finally submitted his resignation letter, which will enable the House to set the date of a special election to choose his successor. … His resignation from the Second Bristol District is effective Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, according to his letter, which was timestamped 12:15 p.m. on Thursday.”

SHNS (pay wall)
Mere coincidence: MassDOT member nabs $96K transportation consulting contract

From Matt Stout at the Herald: “A MassDOT board member scored a $12,000-a-month, no-bid consulting contract for a task force led by the very state agency she oversees, raising concerns of conflicts as the group identifies priorities to reshape transportation in the Seaport. Ruth Bonsignore started the eight-month, $96,000 contract in November after the Massachusetts Port Authority hired her firm, Flink Consulting, to serve as a project manager for the South Boston Waterfront Transportation Implementation Plan.”

Boston Herald
Are the Mashpee Wampanoags folding on Taunton casino?

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has closed the downtown storefront office it opened to support the billion-dollar casino it hoped to build in East Taunton, Rebecca Hyman of the Taunton Gazette reports. Tribal officials are mum, but the project’s on-site construction office also appears to have been shuttered as the tribe pins its hopes on quick federal action to get it back into the gaming game.  If actions speak louder than words, it sure looks like they don’t have much hope for a fed rescue.

Taunton Gazette
Confusion over confusion

You knew this would happen: People demanding clarifications of the IRS’s clarification on prepaying property taxes before a tax-deduction rule change on Monday. The result: more confusion. The Globe’s Tim Logan has the details.

Boston Globe
Happy New Year, employers: Here’s your $200M bill

The New Year will usher in, among other things, $200 million in new health care assessments for employers to help pay for the state’s ballooning MassHealth budget. But employers will get some unemployment insurance rate relief next year, reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan.

SHNS (pay wall)
Clean-energy jobs growth slows, but don’t worry too much

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center reported yesterday that the rate of job growth within the green sector has slowed a bit compared to previous years, according to Kelly O’Brien at the BBJ. As of July 2017, there were 109,226 clean energy jobs in Massachusetts, up 3.8 percent from the year prior. “That's the slowest year-over-year growth rate since MassCEC started collecting jobs data in 2010,” writes O’Brien. We’re not too concerned about the slowdown. The trend is definitely upward, short-term and long-term.

SHNS Trial
Chang on double secret probation?

It wasn’t an easy time for Mayor Walsh post-election and pre-inaugural, as he and his school superintendent, Tommy Chang, fended off back-to-back controversies. But the mayor says he learned from the controversies and remains confident in Chang, though he added there “needed to be more communication” and the “strategy could have been better.” Unless we’re wrong, that’s the rough equivalent of saying Chang is on double-secret probation. The Globe’s Milton Valencia has more.

Boston Globe
Ex-MIT professor indicted on forgery charges tied to his dead son’s will

The alleged genius who once shot himself in the stomach in an attempt to frame his son is back. From Chris Cassidy at the Herald: “A former MIT professor from Hamilton who staged his own shooting years ago was indicted by a grand jury yesterday on charges he forged part of his dead son’s will to collect his properties. John J. Donovan, 75, was indicted on seven counts of forgery and single charges of uttering, filing a false document with the registry of deeds, attempted larceny of property over $250, false statement under penalty of perjury, obtaining a signature by false pretenses, and witness intimidation.”

Boston Herald
Crunching the numbers: John Henry ended up paying nothing for the Globe

Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine crunches the numbers and finds that John Henry may have ended up actually making money by buying the Globe for $70 million, largely by selling off the Telegram & Gazette, the Morrissey Boulevard site and other assets. The NYT, the previous owner, took a wash on the deal – and that doesn’t include getting stuck with the pensions. Bruce has the details.  

Judge tosses suit that accused T’s GM of deceiving investors at his old firm

This could have gotten ugly if it had dragged on much longer. Now it won’t. From Meghna Chakrabarti at WBUR: “A Texas federal judge has dismissed a class action lawsuit against MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez. … In a decision filed Wednesday, Chief District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn of the Northern District of Texas, found that the plaintiffs failed to establish that Ramirez and other former Global Power executives had knowingly acted “with intent to deceive, manipulate, or defraud.”

Top business (and political) stories of 2017

Reading the top stories of 2017 in the Boston Business Journal, you might think you’re actually reading something out of a political magazine -- ballot questions, the Amazon H2Q bidding sweepstakes, marijuana regulations, the battles over ObamaCare, etc. It’s a good list. Check it out.

Job Board
Top stories in general in 2017

Here’s the Globe’s overall most-read stories of 2017, across all news spectrums

Boston Globe
‘He got into it for the right reasons’

A who’s who of Boston politics turned out for the funeral yesterday of the late Joseph F. Timilty, the former city councilor, state senator and three-time mayoral candidate, reports Emily Sweeney at the Globe. Timilty’s son, Gregory, delivered the eulogy, noting his father entered politics to help those in need. “He got into it for the right reasons,” Gregory Timilty said of his father. “He had a great deal of respect for anyone who had the courage to put their name on the ballot.”

Boston Globe
Framingham State launches new biotech MBA program

For a biotech hub like Massachusetts, this makes a lot of sense. From Jim Haddadin at MetroWest Daily News: “Positioning itself to capitalize on the thriving life sciences sector in Massachusetts, Framingham State University will launch a new master’s degree program focused on managing biotech companies. Beginning in fall 2018, FSU will offer an MBA program with a concentration in biotechnology operations.”

MetroWest Daily News
Done deal: Worcester courthouse transfer meets deadline

Government can move quickly when it’s motivated. In this case, the city of Worcester turned over the deed and the keys to the long-shuttered county courthouse to a developer who plans to turn it into housing, George Barnes of the Telegram reports. The transfer of the downtown property—which will go onto the city’s tax rolls for the first time ever—had to happen before the end of 2017 so the developer could lock in tax credits.  

Brockton petitioners want to undo City Council vote on high-density housing

Some residents in Brockton are hoping overturn the city council’s decision to rezone a former convent under the state’s 40R law to allow for high-density housing on the property, Marc Larocque of the Enterprise reports. The bar is a high-one, however, with opponents tasked with gathering the signatures of 12 percent of the city’s eligible voters—that’s more than 6,000 John Hancocks—in just over three weeks. 

NY’s Cuomo blasts GOP tax overhaul as anti-blue states

We’re including this item because we’ve been harping on the same point lately. From Julie Manchester at The Hill: “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) slammed President Trump's tax-cut bill on Thursday, arguing the legislation penalizes his and other blue states because they don't have Republican senators. ‘What the Senate was saying is 'because we have no senators from the blue states, we don't care. So let's pillage the blue to give to the red,' Cuomo told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on ‘New Day.’”

The Hill
UMass band headed to sunny Rose Parade

And, as our final news post of the year, congratulations to the UMass Amherst Minuteman Marching Band, the largest college marching band in the Northeast that’s making its debut at the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in California. SHNS’s Andy Metzger at the Telegram has the details.

Happy New Year – and see you next Tuesday

MassterList would like to wish all our readers a happy New Year’s holiday – and we’ll see you first thing Tuesday morning.

Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Roseanne Thomas, author of ‘Excuse Me: The Survival Guide to Modern Business Etiquette,’ who talks with host Jon Keller about work-place sexual harassment issues and how to discuss politics without alienating friends and acquaintances.   

This is New England, NBC Boston Channel 10, 9:30 p.m. With host Latoyia Edwards, this week’s main topic: New Year’s Eve/ First Night celebrations.  

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Repeat show: A count down of the top ten business stories of 2017 and predictions about the year ahead with Boston Globe business columnist Shirley Leung and Boston Business Journal editor Doug Banks.

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. Repeat show: Goodwill regional CEO Joanne Hilferty, program manager Shaquanta Bailey and program participant Frank Hudacek talk about Goodwill’s services.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Marty Meehan, president of the University of Massachusetts, who talks with anchor Ed Harding and co-anchor Janet Wu.  

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. This week’s main topic: An encore presentation of New England’s Native Americans.

Today's Headlines

Marty Walsh sees lessons in controversies - Boston Globe

Eaniri elected as new Brockton City Council president - Brockton Enterprise


Framingham prepares for plastic bag ban - MetroWest Daily News

Marijuana election pushed back in East Bridgewater - Brockton Enterprise

Framingham/Worcester line improves reliability - Worcester Business Journal

The year in Mass. cannabis - Dig Boston


Trump says Russia inquiry makes U.S. ‘look very bad’ - New York Times

Trump Inc. Had a Rough Year, but His D.C. Hotel Is Killing It - The Daily Beast

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  • Wide ranging summary of the latest news on Massachusetts politics, public policy, and government
  • Rich array of sources, both conventional and niche
  • Beacon Hill's most comprehensive Calendar of upcoming political, policy and advocacy events
  • Check our Job Board identifying Beacon Hill's best new positions available in government, politics and public policy