Local pundits debate civility in politics

Re civility, or lack thereof, in politics these days: The Globe’s Renée Graham takes a fight-fire-with-fire approach towards Democratic civility in the age of Trump. The Globe’s Michael Cohen takes the old he-started-it position. The Herald’s Howie Carr, typically, prefers a take-no-prisoners approach, even when two Democrats effectively respond they don’t like either the fight-fire-with-fire or he-started-it approaches towards civility in politics.
Partners switches 100,000 employees and relatives to its own insurance firm, leaving Blue Cross in the dust
Now this is market clout, as exhibited by a giant institution frequently criticized for unfairly flexing its market-clout muscles in Massachusetts: Partners HealthCare is switching all its employees and family members – 100,000 of them — from Blue Cross Blue Shield to its very own Neighborhood Health Plan, reports Priyanka Dayal McCluskey.

Here’s our questions: Will Partners now start allowing non-Partners employees who are currently signed up with Neighborhood Health to use Partners’ vast network of hospitals and doctors? Current Neighborhood Health customers are frequently told they’re excluded from the Partners network. And will their Neighborhood premium rates be the same as Partners’ employees? Just wondering.

Baker on huge Methuen police payouts: ‘There’s simply no precedent for the numbers’
Count Gov. Charlie Baker among those who think paying police captains in Methuen nearly a half-million dollars each is a bit too much. Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive has the details. Btw: It turns out Kiera Blessing at the Eagle-Tribune was the first to report on the outrageous pay packages in Methuen, not a certain other publication.
Let’s make a deal: Raise Up will drop minimum-wage referendum — if Baker signs ‘grand bargain’
From SHNS’s Colin Young at the Greenville Recorder: “The coalition of more than 100 labor, community and faith-based groups behind a proposed ballot question to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour has agreed to drop that question from the ballot – if Gov. Charlie Baker signs a compromise bill that would accomplish the same goal.” The governor has signaled he might sign it. But you never know. We’ll see.
Worcester-area public transit sees nation’s steepest ridership drop
Talk about trending in the wrong direction. Ridership on the Worcester Regional Transit Authority system is down 13 percent so far this year, more than twice the next-largest drop among similar systems in the state and one of the steepest declines in the nation, Cyrus Moulton reports in the Telegram. Consultants told the authority’s board the drop was likely due to a fare hike put in place last summer to cover a budget deficit, but Moulton notes that the number of missed bus trips on the system is also up almost 25 percent year-over-year.


Political earthquake in NY: Bigwig Dem upset by BU grad, tremors felt in Mass.
From the NYT: “Representative Joseph Crowley of New York, once seen as a possible successor to Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader of the House, suffered a shocking primary defeat on Tuesday, the most significant loss for a Democratic incumbent in more than a decade, and one that will reverberate across the party and the country. Mr. Crowley was defeated by a 28-year-old political newcomer, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former organizer for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, who had declared it was time for generational, racial and ideological change.”

The Globe’s Alana Levene reports that Ocasio-Cortez was a “strong voice for social justice” while attending Boston University.

Obviously, local Democratic incumbents facing primary challenges must be a little nervous this morning, including, first and foremost, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, who’s facing a tough primary fight against City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. But U.S. Richard Neal is also facing a primary challenge, via Tahirha Amatul-Wadud, as is U.S. Reps. Joseph Kennedy, et gang, etc.

Non-political earthquake in Utah: Mitt glides to victory in U.S. Senate primary
As the Salt Lake City Tribune’s Benjamin Wood put it, Mitt Romney hardly broke a sweat yesterday in Utah, capturing 73 percent of the vote in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, all but guaranteeing he’ll be serving in the U.S. Senate early next year. But how will he serve? That’s the big question the Globe’s Annie Linskey tries to answer.
Hassan’s intern suspended for yelling ‘f*#k you’ at President Trump
An intern for U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire has been suspended for a week for recently yelling at President Trump, “Mr. President, fuck you!” But many want her fired. Paul Feely and Dave Solomon at the Union Leader have the suspension story. Mary Markos at the Herald has the fire-her-now story.


Cannabis Commission: No test labs, no pot shops
There won’t be any retail pot shops open by July 1 – even if, by some miracle, the Cannabis Control Commission approves a special license for pop-up shops on street corners. The reason: There are no legally required pot testing labs in Massachusetts and no applications for one have been submitted yet. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive and SHNS’s Colin Young at WBUR have more the latest industry setback.
And there’s a shortage of marijuana applications from minority and low-income areas too
The Globe’s Dan Adams takes a look at how there are only a handful of recreational-pot applications from those in communities hit hard by the decades-long war on drugs. So the Cannabis Control Commission has now unveiled an “unusual training and mentoring program to help people from minority and low-income neighborhoods start or work in marijuana businesses,” he reports.