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01/05/2018

Tales from the floods | Budget surplus? | Pot showdown

 
TDI - Vermont
 
 
Happening Today
 
Post-storm delays, SJC hearings, Lawrence inauguration and more …
 

-- Gov. Charlie Baker says executive branch employees will be asked to report by 11 a.m. today to give road crews more time to work after yesterday’s storm, according to SHNS.

-- MBTA ferry service will be suspended again today, reports SHNS.

-- New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell holds a post-snowstorm media briefing, Ashley Room, City Hall, 133 William St., New Bedford, 9 a.m.

-- Supreme Judicial Court is scheduled to hear the following cases: Commonwealth v. Tyriek A. Brown, Commonwealth v. John Cassidy, A L Prime Energy Consultant Inc. v. MBTA, Tara Dorrian and another v. LVNV Funding, Commonwealth v. William McDonagh, and Commonwealth v. Daiquan Miller, John Adams Courthouse, Courtroom One, Second Floor, Pemberton Square, Boston, 9 a.m.

-- Executive Office of Health and Human Services holds a public hearing on regulatory amendments affecting payment rates for surgery and anesthesia, medicine, and radiology, first floor conference room, 100 Hancock St., Quincy, 10:30 a.m.

-- Daniel Rivera is inaugurated to a second term as mayor of Lawrence, with Attorney General Maura Healey attending, Lawrence High School performing arts center, 70-71 North Parish Rd., Lawrence, 12 p.m.

-- 32BJ SEIU and Massachusetts TPS Committee hold a press conference about the need to extend TPS to Boston's Salvadoran resident, 32BJ offices, 26 West St., Boston, 12:30 p.m.

 
 
 
 
Today's Stories
 
Record flooding reaches Blizzard of ’78 levels, National Guard deployed
 

Forget about the snow. Flooding was the real problem yesterday – and remains the real problem today, after yesterday’s blizzard. From SHNS Katie Lannan at the Milford Daily News: “Coastal flooding was reported in about 32 communities Thursday as a major winter storm walloped Massachusetts, bringing with it two to three inches of snow per hour, historic high tides and very high winds, Gov. Charlie Baker said. Speaking from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation highway operations center, Baker said the state had deployed National Guard high-water vehicles to help rescue individuals stranded by a coastal storm surge that hit during the middle of the all-day snowstorm.”

Meteorologist David Epstein at the Globe said that Boston Harbor appears to have seen its greatest tide swell “since at least the Blizzard of 1978 and possibly since 1921.” He’s not blaming anyone for not anticipating the widespread flooding, btw: “Tide predictions are somewhat difficult and because the storm grew so large, so fast, I suspect that this was underpredicted.”

The Boston Herald and the Boston Globehave good summary stories on the storm, with a separate Globe piece with social-media videos and photos of the regional flooding. NECN and MassLive also have reports on widespread regional flooding. The Globe reports Mayor Walsh is warning that “flooding in areas of the city from the day’s intense snowstorm underlined the potential problems the city faces from rising waters caused by climate change.”

 
 
Tales from the floods …
 

Here are other storm-related headlines from across the state, focusing mostly on flooding:

'Some Winthrop residents evacuated by front-end loader' (Universal Hub)

'Floating dumpsters sail in ‘inundation district’' (Boston Herald)

'Lynn cop carries a little girl on his back to escape flooded car' (Lynn Item)

'Winter storm pummels Nantucket with rain, wind flooding' (Inquirer & Mirror)

'Six rescued from flood waters in Marshfield' (Patriot Ledger)

'Storm surge blasts through Scituate seawall' (Patriot Ledger)

'Storm surge highlights challenges faced by Boston’s waterfront businesses' (BBJ)

'Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth forced to shut down during storm' (MassLive

 
 
MBTA’s storm performance grade: Pass or fail?
 

If the MBTA were subject to a pass-fail grading system for its performance during yesterday’s blizzard, it would earn a “pass,” based on the simple fact the entire system didn’t collapse like it did in 2015. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t lots of problems yesterday for the T, from station floodings to delayed train services to train-car scares. The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro has a good summary of T woes yesterday. Wicked Local reports on a car struck on tracks in Bridgewater. SHNS reports (pay wall) on Blue Line woes. The Herald’s Owen Boss reports on his commuter-rail odyssey. And, last but not least, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzales had a relatively smooth ride yesterday morning on the T, reports SHNS (pay wall).

 
 
Speaking of transit issues, whatever happened to that transportation commission?
 

When they first announced the commission, one got the impression the Baker administration wasn’t very enthusiastic about the idea. This kind of confirms that hunch. From SHNS’s Colin Young at CommonWealth magazine: “In September, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced that Gov. Charlie Baker would sign an executive order "in the coming weeks" creating a new commission to review transportation needs and how the state could fund them. More than three months later, as Massachusetts braces for a blizzard and commuters wonder whether they will be able to get where they need to go amid winter weather, the administration still has not established its transportation review commission.”

CommonWealth
 
 
Advertise
 
 
BREAKING NEWS: Patriots dynasty, over!
 

We interrupt our MassterList Storm Team Coverage to bring you this breaking story: ESPN is reporting the Patriots dynasty may be over after this season due to tensions between Tom, Bill and Bob. Repeat: The dynasty may be over. The Globe’s Jeremy Fox and Matt Pepin have more. … As a MassterList reader just told us: ESPN has been dying to declare the end of the Pats’ reign since 2002. … Now back to normal MassterList news. ….

ESPN
 
 
Storm of a different sort: Boston Winter becomes finger-pointing fiesta
 

It may be blanketed in snow, but all is not quiet on City Hall Plaza. Milton Valencia of the Globe reports Boston Winter vendors are unhappy with this year’s version of the event, with nearly half of the 110 businesses taking part saying they have not earned any money. The rancor includes a lawsuit filed by Boston Garden Development Corp.—which manages the event on behalf of the city—against Millennial Entertainment, which manages vendors. 

Boston Globe
 
 
Bay State leaders vs Lelling showdown over pot?
 

Bay State leaders – including Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey – yesterday criticized a move by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to free prosecutors to more aggressively enforce federal anti-marijuana laws, a decision that could impact the recently legalized pot industry in Massachusetts and elsewhere, according to reports by the Boston Herald and two reports (here and here) at MassLive.

And U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling sounds like he may take a tough stand against the pot trade in Massachusetts, though he did mention his office will use “discretion” and work with local officials moving forward, according to a report by SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall). Here’s the part of Lelling’s statement that caught our attention, i.e. how his office will “aggressively investigate and prosecute bulk cultivation and trafficking cases, and those who use the federal banking system illegally.” If Lelling clamps down on the banking system here, he potentially could choke off the lifeblood of pot companies: capital.

The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission plans to proceed with formulating new regulations for the pot industry in Massachusetts, Sessions decision or not. The Herald’s Bob McGovern has a good column in which he quotes former U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz saying how easy it would be for Lelling to crack down on marijuana companies in Massachusetts, if he so wishes. In an editorial, the Springfield Republican says the Sessions decision is much ado about nothing: “Prosecuting marijuana offenses in a liberal state that just legalized it, where the majority either endorses or at least accepts it and where apparatus and rules to govern it are finally falling into place seems politically unlikely.”

 
 
State budget surplus? Six-month revenues shatter expectations
 

Believe it or not, there really was some good news yesterday, courtesy of the Department of Revenue. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “Tax collections in December left Massachusetts government flush with unbudgeted cash as revenues for the first half of the fiscal year have exceeded estimates by $728 million, shedding light on Gov. Charlie Baker's decision this week to lift the hold he had put on legislative spending earmarks. The Department of Revenue announced Thursday that the more than $3 billion in taxes collected in December exceeded projections by $527 million, or 21.2 percent, and beat last year's mark by $517 million. After the first six months of fiscal 2018, the state has now collected more than $12.9 billion, which is 6 percent above the benchmark and 8.1 percent, or $966 million, higher than the first half of fiscal 2017.”

SHNS (pay wall)
 
 
SHNS Trial
 
 
Trump administration to expand drilling off of U.S. coastlines
 

With most attention focused on yesterday’s storm and its aftermath, it may take a few more days to sort out the true impact of this on Massachusetts and New England. From the Washington Post: “The Trump administration unveiled a controversial proposal Thursday to permit drilling in most U.S. continental-shelf waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic, where oil and gas exploration is opposed by governors from New Jersey to Florida, nearly a dozen attorneys general, more than 100 U.S. lawmakers and the Defense Department.”

Washington Post
 
 
Transgender women drops suit against Hampden County in exchange for early release
 

From Stephanie Barry at MassLive: “A transgender woman who sued Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi over alleged mistreatment and harassment while an inmate at the Ludlow jail has dropped her $100,000 lawsuit in exchange for a slightly earlier release.”

Keep reading to see why the inmate desperately sought an early release. If the allegations of abuse and rape are true, it was literally about survival.

MassLive
 
 
Hello? Anyone at home at Millennium Tower?
 

A lot of Boston’s luxury condos were ultimately financed or purchased by foreign investors, so this, unfortunately, isn’t too surprising. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Wealthy people from all over the world have bought condos at the ultra-luxury Millennium Tower in Downtown Crossing, but not many of them live there full time. City of Boston assessing records indicate three of every four owners don’t consider their condos their principal residence, suggesting the 60-story building, which is nearly sold out, is rarely if ever fully occupied.”

Of course, this raises the question: How are all these new luxury condos helping to alleviate the local housing crunch if many of them are just sitting empty? Answer: They’re not helping alleviate the housing crunch. 

CommonWealth
 
 
Healey takes credit for Eversource’s tax-cut givebacks
 

Attorney General Maura Healey, in a press release issued yesterday, was taking credit for Eversource’s announcement that it was giving back to customers the money it will save from tax cuts recently approved by Congress, noting her office urged Eversource two weeks ago to take the action. Jim Kinney at MassLive and the Associated Press at the Salem News have more on Healey’s role in the givebacks.

 
 
Warren: People are openly talking about Trump’s mental health after North Korea tweets
 

They should be talking about it. How can they not? From Tori Bedford at WGBH: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren told WGBH News that her colleagues in Washington are concerned about President Trump’s mental health, following a series of recent tweets sent by Trump targeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. ‘There’s a lot of talk about it in D.C., and a lot of talk about the fact that he says one thing today and says something different tomorrow and says something very different the day after that — much of this is dangerous,’ Warren said. 'I mean, trying to taunt Kim Jong Un, that could go very badly.'”

MassLive
 
 
Job Board
 
 
The mayor giveth, the mayor taketh away
 

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera took back the day off he gave City Hall workers for his inauguration today, calling the idea a “mistake,” Keith Eddings of the Eagle-Tribune reports. “We got carried away wanting to share our excitement for a new term with as many people as possible,” Rivera wrote in an email to workers informing them that they do indeed have to report for work. Give him credit for admitting a mistake, something others wouldn't have done.

Eagle Tribune
 
 
China policy change leaves MetroWest recycling on ice
 

File under: Return to sender. Massive bundles of post-consumer paper ready to be recycled are stacking up in the Westboro headquarters of E.L. Harvey after China changed the rules for importing such material, Jonathan Phelps of the MetroWest Daily News reports. The change could eventually impact curbside recycling programs unless Harvey and other companies are able to find new markets. 

MetroWest Daily News
 
 
Chandler’s Third District candidacy draws national attention
 

Alexandra Chandler may be just one in a crowd of 13 Democrats vying for the chance to become the next U.S. Representative from the Third Massachusetts District, but her unique background has helped her snag some national media attention. Christianna Silva of Newsweek profiles Chandler, a transgender woman who transitioned while serving as a military intelligence analyst and notes she has a chance to make history if elected. Chandler indicates she will embrace her own story while drawing parallels to the struggles that the middle class and minorities face every day. 

Newsweek
 
 
Sunday public affairs TV
 


Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 5, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Jill Stein, former Green Party presidential and gubernatorial candidate, who talks with host Jon Keller about the Senate probe of Russian influence on the 2016 election, including her campaign, and the future of the Green Party.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Nariman Behravesh, IHS Markit’s chief economist, on the 2018 economic outlook; Equinox senior regional director Darren Cappetta on the business of fitness; and Boston Business Journal Editor Doug Banks on local flooding and the blizzard of 2018, the MBTA, Boston Mayor Walsh’s top priorities, and the future of the Reebok Canton campus.

CEO Corner, NECN, 10:30 a.m. Anita Walker, executive director of the Mass Cultural Council talks on the business of the arts; Boston Gay Men’s Chorus executive director Craig Coogan and Berkshire Theater Group CEO Kate McGuire join the conversation.  

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren, who speaks with anchor Ed Harding and co-anchor Janet Wu.

This is New England, NBC Boston Channel 10, 11:30 a.m. With host Latoyia Edwards, this week’s focus: The Golden Globe awards.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. This week’s focus: An Encore Presentation of Youth at Work.

 
 
BHTS
 
 
Today's Headlines
 
Metro
 

Biogen donates $10 million for Cambridge, Somerville STEM programs - Boston Globe

Is anyone home at Millennium Tower? - CommonWealth Magazine

 
Massachusetts
 

Tourism officials wrestle with cannabis marketing - Gloucester Times

Salary of new director for Union Point oversight agency draws criticism - Patriot Ledger

Chronic absenteeism rises in Worcester - Worcester Magazine

 
Nation
 

Iowa and New Hampshire already vetting 2020 presidential hopefuls - NPR

Trump, Romney talk on phone amid speculation over Utah senate bid - Politico

 
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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