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Scared witnesses | Now what? | Tuning out news

Happening Today
Municipal Association meeting, economic outlook, local aid, Salem State inauguration

-- Massachusetts Municipal Association Annual Meeting and Trade Show begins with speakers throughout the day, including Gov. Charlie Baker, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, former Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral and best-selling author Dennis Lehane, 900 Boylston St., Boston, starting at 8 a.m.

-- Northeastern University professor Alan Clayton-Matthews appears at the MassEcon meeting to deliver a forecast for the Massachusetts economic outlook for 2018, 200 Friberg Parkway, Westborough, 9 a.m.

-- Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to preview aspects of his forthcoming fiscal year 2019 budget, perhaps including local-aid funding levels, at the Massachusetts Municipal Association annual meeting, 900 Boylston St., Boston, 10:30 a.m.

-- The Registry of Motor Vehicles holds a hearing to inform the public about a slew of proposed amendments to existing regulations, 10 Park Plaza - 2nd floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

-- Boston Public Schools holds an informational kick-off for school leaders on the Sandy Hook Promise initiative, a no-cost school-violence prevention program, with Attorney General Maura Healey expected to attend, Boston Public Schools Central Office, 6th Floor, Bolling Municipal Building, 2300 Washington Street, Roxbury, 10:30 a.m.

-- MBTA bus mechanics plan an anti-privatization rally at the State House, Grand Staircase, 12 p.m.

-- Former state Rep. John Keenan is inaugurated as president of Salem State University, with Gov. Charlie Baker, Sen. Joan Lovely, Rep. Paul Tucker and Salem Mayor Mary DeSimone among those expected to attend, 225 Canal St., Salem, 2 p.m.

Today's Stories
Report: Potential witnesses scared off in Rosenberg probe

WGBH’s Mike Deehan has a big story this morning: Potential witness in the legislative probe of former Senate President Stan Rosenberg and his husband’s alleged sexual harassment of State House players are afraid “the inquiry may expose key State House staff to future political retribution, casting a pale over the investigation that could undermine it.” The issue has to do with subpoenas – and who gets to see the list of those who are subpoenaed. 

Rosenberg: It’s ‘not rocket science’ to craft Airbnb regulations

Speaking of former Senate President Stan Rosenberg, who many think and/or hope will reclaim the presidency one day, he’s still generating non-investigation headlines, showing his continued influence on Beacon Hill. Jack Sullivan at CommonWealth magazine reports on Rosenberg’s veiled shots at the House for not taking action on regulating Airbnb and other short-term rental companies. “It’s incredible,” Rosenberg said. “Yet it takes three years for one of the few full-time legislatures in the country to come up with a solution…It’s not rocket science.’”

Boston (and Somerville) make it to the next Amazon round: Now what?

The only Amazon surprises yesterday were: A.) Somerville was included, along with Boston, as a finalist city for Amazon’s HQ2 and B.) Amazon initially didn’t mention Somerville as a finalist, causing momentary confusion that was later corrected by Amazon, as the Boston Business Journal and MassLive reported. Otherwise, was there anyone in Massachusetts who didn’t think Boston/Greater Boston wouldn’t be on Amazon’s finalist list? It was almost a foregone conclusion.

So what now? One thing is clear: Gov. Charlie Baker says it’s too early to talk about potential economic incentives to lure Amazon, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive. The Globe’s Shirley Leung says the governor and two mayors need to start talking soon to each other. She has two other suggestions. Meanwhile, the Boston Herald looks at the pluses and minuses of a Boston bid – and it also has Amazon’s full list of cities making it to the finals.

New England Clean Power Link
Public unions rip plan to restructure state workers’ health plans

From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “Unions were furious Thursday after the Group Insurance Commission voted to restructure its health insurance offerings for state employees and retirees, criticizing the agency for what they considered a rushed vote that could impact hundreds of thousands of residents. The GIC, which manages health insurance benefits for 400,000 state workers and retirees, finalized a plan that would curtail the number of insurance companies that can sell plans through the agency beginning July 1.”

SHNS (pay wall)
Senate Dems pin a shutdown bulls-eye on themselves

Senate Democrats allowed themselves to get boxed into a corner on the government-shutdown issue – and now they’re about to get the blame if a shutdown isn’t averted today. From the NYT: “The House approved a stopgap spending bill on Thursday night to keep the government open past Friday, but Senate Democrats — angered by President Trump’s vulgar aspersions and a lack of progress on a broader budget and immigration deal — appeared ready to block the measure.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Beth Lindstorm, in an online petition, is already trying to place the shutdown blame on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The Herald’s Chris Cassidy reports Democrats will indeed take a hit on this one – and from some of their natural allies too. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld has a suggestion on how to keep a possible shutdown brief: “Let’s see how long the shutdown lasts when lawmakers’ salaries are on the line.” U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, a Democrat, says the showdown is over much more than just the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program,WGBH’s Tori Bedford reports

Last but not least, the Herald’s Matt Stout reports what state government is doing in case of a possible shutdown.

Former chief announces she’s taking on Rep. Ashe

She’s going for it. From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Allison Werder, the former president of, announced Thursday that she will run for state representative. Werder, a Republican from Longmeadow, will challenge incumbent State Rep. Brian Ashe, D-Longmeadow, in the 2nd Hampden District.” As Shira notes, MassLive and the Springfield Republican are separate units of the same parent company, Advance Local. Matt Szafranski at Western Mass. Politics & Insight has more on Werder’s challenge.

Ferries tune out the news

So it’s come to this. The agency that runs ferries between Cape Cod and the islands has adopted a policy requiring televisions on its vessels not be tuned to national news broadcasts, Sean Driscoll reports in the Cape Cod Times. Passengers who are apparently sick of politics and/or prone to blow a gasket over politics will instead see cooking shows and a whole lot of the weather channel after the agency fielded complaints from both ends of the political spectrum. 

Cape Cod Times
SJC: Victims have the right to influence sentencings

It’s been accepted practice in many courtrooms for a number of years now, but now it’s a legal right. From the Globe’s John Ellement: “Crime victims have the right to influence the punishment of those convicted of harming them, the state’s highest court ruled Thursday, ordering judges to consider victims’ statements during sentencing. ‘A victim’s recommendation, whether it be for a lenient sentence in the hope of redemption or for a maximum sentence commensurate with harm, is a relevant consideration in determining the appropriate sentence to impose,’ Justice David Lowy wrote for the Supreme Judicial Court in a unanimous opinion.”

Boston Globe
Boncore wins the big one: Co-chair of the Transportation Committee

Sen. Joseph Boncore of Winthrop has won one of the most coveted of plum committee assignments on Beacon Hill: Co-chair of the Transportation Committee, replacing former Sen. Tom McGee, who left the legislature earlier this month to become mayor of Lynn. SHNS’s Andy Metzger has the details at South Coast Today.

South Coast Today
Flubbing the test: Kingston couldn’t name his Congressman (hint: it’s not a man)

The Globe’s Frank Phillips is all over Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Kingston’s flubbing of a simple question: Who represents you in Congress? The question was originally asked by the Sun Chronicle’s Jim Hand during a recent interview. Kingston had to look it up. It’s U.S. Rep. Katherine Clarke. Though a guy spending millions of dollars of his own money to win a statewide office should know things like this, we’re pretty sure a huge percentage of the electorate doesn’t have a clue who his or her Congressman or Congresswoman is either.  Btw: We don’t know the price for a quart of milk either. We’re Half & Halfers.

From Alabama -- with upset playbook in hand?

Alexandra Chandler has tapped Lauren Young as the deputy manager for her 3rd District congressional campaign, hoping to lean on Young's recent success in flipping an Alabama Senate seat to the Democrats, Peter Francis reports in the Eagle-Tribune.

Eagle Tribune
Is working at DraftKings now Chris Christie’s fantasy job?

Newly unemployed former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the Boston headquarters of fantasy sports company DraftKings on Thursday in what the company is billing as a social call, noting his longtime support for the industry, Jordan Graham reports in the Herald. Oh, he just happened to be in Massachusetts, we're sure.

Of course, the former presidential candidate’s trip to the Hub was not an uneventful one. NBC News reported that as he arrived at the airport for his flight to Boston, Christie tried to use the VIP line he had access to only to be directed to stand in the same line as regular folk. Christie took to Twitter to blast the report as “pure fiction.”

Psychic gets 26 months for charging elderly woman $3.5M for demon exorcisms

As Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin notes, the psychic obviously didn’t see this one coming, i.e. the old slammer, even though she must have known it was wrong, by any standard, to charge an elderly Martha’s Vineyard woman $3.5 million to cleanse her of demons via repeated exorcisms.

Universal Hub
Ex-Gov. Jane Swift takes command at Florida health-care career academy

The Tampa Bay Business Journal, via the BBJ, takes a look at former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift, who earlier this month was appointed executive chair of Florida’s Ultimate Medical Academy, a nonprofit post-secondary school that trains health care professionals. The academy has 2,000 employees and 15,000 students.

MWRA worker awarded $1.2M for wrongful firing

From Danny McDonald at the Globe: “A Suffolk Superior Court jury Thursday awarded a former Massachusetts Water Resources Authority worker $1.2 million, finding the authority wrongly fired him for taking medical leave, court documents show. Richard DaPrato, a data resources manager from Billerica who worked for the MWRA from 2004 to 2015, alleged he was retaliated against for taking approved medical leave from work and for disclosing his anticipated need for future medical leave.”

Boston Globe
Meanwhile, Brockton report says no retaliation in costly discrimination suit

A Boston law firm says no one in Brockton City Hall retaliated against an employee who eventually won a $4 million discrimination settlement against the city, Marc Larocque reports in the Enterprise. Brockton spent $68,000 on the report, which drops as the city continues to appeal the jury award to former DPW worker Russell Lopes. 

Following in the scouting footsteps of Bill Belichick’s father …

With this Sunday’s big AFC championship game between the Pats and Jaguars only two days away, we thought MassterList readers would enjoy this terrific Sports Illustrated piece by Connor Orr, who watched this past Sunday’s Pat-Titans game through the eyes of Steve Belichick, the late father of Bill Belichick and author of the seminal book “Football Scouting Methods.” We now know, beyond any shadow of doubt, where the younger Belichick got his football smarts. Check it out. 

Go Pats!

Sports Illustrated
Sunday public affairs TV

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week's guest: Mayor Marty Walsh, who discusses the Amazon headquarters bid, development issues, the 2018 state elections and more.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce CEO Jim Rooney on the Boston Amazon bid passing its first hurdle, state jobs figures, paid family leave and other issues; Dunkin Donuts U.S. COO Scott Murphy on the rebranding and opening of the new “Dunkin’” concept store; Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe on top business stories of the week.   

Boston College Chief Executives Club, NECN, 1 p.m. Recording of Marriott International president and CEO Arne Sorenson’s talk with Hill Holliday chairman and CEO Karen Kaplan about being the first non-family member to run the biggest hotel chain in the world, what defines the Marriott brand and what’s it like to open a new hotel every 14 hours for an entire year. 

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Attorney General Maura Healey, who talks 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 main topic: Bundle Up New England, a program to help those in need of help during cold months. 

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. This week’s main topic: How the Arts Intersects with Economics, Politics, and Community.    

Today's Headlines

Winter woes put spotlight on Mattapan trolley’s fate - Dorchester Reporter

People ‘jumping to conclusions’ about GE, Mayor Walsh says - MassLive


Mass. high court rules victim’s view must factor in sentencing - Boston Globe

Fiscal woes prompt Hatfield special meeting - Hampshire Gazette

Fuel banks seek $25M in state assistance - Cape Cod Times


Senate in disarray with shutdown hours away - Politico

The chaos president vs. his iron-fisted chief of staff - New York Times

SHNS Trial
Beacon Hill Town Square

To view more events or post an event listing on Beacon Hill Town Square, please visit

Jan. 19, 12 p.m.
Author Talk and Book Signing with Mimi Graney
Hosted by: State Library of Massachusetts
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Jan. 19, 5 p.m.
Democratic Campaign Institute
Hosted by: Massachusetts Democratic Party
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Jan. 20, 10 a.m.
Boston School Finder's School Enrollment Fair
Hosted by: Boston School Finder
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Jan. 20, 1 p.m.
Boston/Cambridge Women's March: The People Persist
Hosted by: The January Coalition
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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