Window Into The State House

‘As facilities crumble, MBTA boasts of a balanced budget’
We were wondering how the media was going to handle all the contradictory news coming out of the T yesterday. Then along comes the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro to sum it all up: “The MBTA is in rare health, disclosing Monday that it finished its most recent fiscal year with balanced books for the first time in a decade. But the MBTA is also falling apart in some places, the sudden closure of the crumbling Alewife garage over the weekend the most recent example of years of deferred maintenance coming home to roost.”

Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive has more on the welcome balanced budget. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine and SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) have more on the unwelcome Alewife debacle.

Btw: Universal Hub was holding a sort of contest the other day. Should it be called ‘ALEWIFEAGEDDON’ or ‘PARKAPOCALYPSE’ or just plain ‘Monday Metrowest Disaster’? “You choose your disaster title!”

Btw II: Gov. Charlie Baker today will be inspecting a mock-up of the new Red Line cars that are being built for the T. Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine provided a sneak peek yesterday.

Coming soon to Rhode Island: Truck tolls just over the Mass. border?
Don’t look now, but a fresh border war could be brewing down south. Rick Foster of the Sun Chronicle reports that the Rhode Island Department of Transportation is moving forward with plans to set up as many as a dozen open-road tolling gantries on highways near the Massachusetts border. Though the tolls will only be collected from heavy trucks, some pushback is expected when a series of public hearings are held next week.

The Ocean State says it will use the tolls to fund as much as $450 million in bridge repairs over the next decade, but we’re not convinced this isn’t all an elaborate revenge plan connected to Worcester’s efforts to lure away the PawSox.  We’ll see.

As Warren runs for re-election in Massachusetts, two aides decamp to New Hampshire
This is pretty blatant. From James Pindell at the Globe: “US Senator Elizabeth Warren will stand for re-election in Massachusetts in less than three months, but two of her aides have already decamped to New Hampshire — home of the first-in-the-nation (presidential) primary — for key roles with state Democrats.” As Pindell notes, past presidential wannabes have dispatched staffers to N.H., on someone else’s payroll, of course, well in advance of a campaign. So this isn’t unusual.

Btw: The Herald’s Hillary Chabot reports that candidates in the Third Congressional District are also eyeing voters in New Hampshire. In this case, it’s Massachusetts residents vacationing in the Granite State only weeks before the Sept. 4 primary election.

Essex DA joins those criticizing Warren’s ‘uninformed rhetoric’ on criminal justice system
It’s not going away. Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, a Democrat who also serves as president of the National District Attorneys Association, is the latest to take exception to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s recent claim that the criminal justice system is “racist … front to back.” He writes in a Facebook post that the “uninformed rhetoric she espouses is not helpful to those of us working tirelessly to build trust and improve relationships with our communities.”


So why are Vineyard Wind’s prices so much lower than Cape Wind’s prices?
The Globe’s Jon Chesto takes a look at the incredibly low prices Vineyard Wind tentatively plans to charge for electricity generated by its proposed offshore wind farm – prices considerably lower than those once proposed by the now defunct Cape Wind. He concludes there’s a number of factors at play, including increased competition and improved technologies.

We’d add to the list: Lack of political interference. (If you recall, National Grid and later Eversource were strong-armed by the Patrick administration into signing power-purchase agreements with Cape Wind, prompting then AG Martha Coakley to step in to modify the original terms, lowering prices from outrageous to only slightly less outrageous.)


Beauty queen who gave back crown over #MeToo skit stripped of ultramarathon crown for cheating
Maude Gorman, the Miss Plymouth County beauty queen who turned in her crown over a tasteless #MeToo movement skit involving a pageant official, is accused of repeatedly cheating in ultramarathon races and has had her finishes vacated in several instances, according to reports at MassLive and Marathon Investigation. The incorrigible is going crazy on the story – and it’s accusing Gorman of making up a lot of other stuff too. They’re very serious accusations about very serious claims by her over the years.
Somerville mayor: ‘I will never drink Sam Adam’s beer again!’
Reacting to Boston Beer founder Jim Koch’s effusive praise of President Trump’s tax cuts at a presidential dinner last week, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone wondered in a series of tweets if Koch bothered to “express any concern for the families separated under (Trump’s) cruel and inhumane immigration enforcement policy” and he pronounced: “I will never drink Sam Adam’s beer again!”

But here’s the tweet in between those two lines that isn’t getting as much play: “We need to hold these complicit profiteers of Trump’s white nationalist agenda accountable!” Really? He’s calling Koch a complicit profiteer of a white nationalist agenda?

Berkshire DA cries foul over lawmaker’s effort to cull election field
Acting Berkshire District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello says state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier crossed a line when she met with two progressive Democrats running against him in next month’s primary to discuss whether one of them should leave the race to increase the chances of unseating the loan male candidate. Larry Parkas has the details at the Berkshire Eagle.
GOP Super PAC: Hey, let’s ‘make political fun’
From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “The Massachusetts political podcast landscape will have a new player starting this week when the Jobs First super PAC, which supports Republican legislative candidates, kicks off its new show called ‘Make Political Fun Again.’ Calling it ‘an insider’s look at the world of Massachusetts politics,’ Jobs First Chairman Andrew Goodrich said the podcast series will be the first in Massachusetts run by a political action committee.”

Keep in mind: The majority of legislative races are uncontested this year in Massachusetts, i.e. no Republican candidates, so you do have to wonder about the GOP’s cart-before-the-horse campaign priorities.

Judge in Hefner case: What was said to the Senate, stays in the Senate
In a setback to Attorney General Maura Healey, a Superior Court judge says witnesses in the Byron Hefner sexual-misconduct case who came forward under the promise of confidentiality by the state Senate deserve to have their identities remain a secret. Judge William F. Sullivan said prosecutors have had plenty of time to do their own legwork ahead of a planned 2019 trial for Hefner. Matt Stout at the Globe has all the details.