Window Into The State House

State’s ‘red flag’ law leads to firearm confiscations in six cases   From the Globe’s Matt Stout: “Massachusetts judges have issued a half-dozen orders stripping firearms from people identified as being dangers to themselves or others since a new so-called red flag law passed last summer, state court officials said. In all, courts handled seven petitions for an ‘extreme risk protective order’ over seven-plus months, according to the first data the state’s released since the law went into effect in July. In just one of the instances, a petition was denied after a court hearing.” SHNS’s Katie Lannan at WBUR has more. Bottom line: The new law is getting used more often, and faster, than we would have suspected, considering all the thorny legal issues involved.  
  The MBTA pension system: Not as bad as it looks or outright Ponzi scheme?   SHNS’s Chris Lisinski at the Milford Daily News and Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine report on the growing alarm over the financial state of the MBTA’s pension system, after the $1.45 billion fund paid out $151 million more than it took in last year. Brian Shortsleeve, a T control board member, said the negative cash flow is “akin to burning the furniture to heat the house,” but a union official said a negative cash flow is what you get when you suddenly lay off a bunch of people and dump them into the retirement system. In an editorial headlined “MBTA pension system operates like a Ponzi scheme,” the Globe isn’t buying the union’s explanation, saying the T’s pension fund has become a financial “black hole.”  
  The outlier: Blue Line ridership increases while other lines see declines   Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine has a piece on the curious case of the T’s Blue Line, which has seen a recent upswing in ridership while other subway lines have seen a downtick. T officials are trying to figure out the elixir that seems to be doing wonders for the Blue Line. Btw: In a Globe op-ed, Steve Poftak, the T’s general manager, defends the transit agency’s proposed fare hikes, saying they’re part of the T’s investment strategy of improving service over the long-term.  
  Step right up: Get your very own Robert Kraft affidavits (warning: explicit language)   If it works for the Boston Globe, it works for us, i.e. blaring a variation of the “Read the affidavits in the Robert Kraft case (warning: explicit language)” and seeing the post skyrocket to the top of the most-read list (at least at the Globe as of this morning). But if you want good summaries of all things Bob Kraft, Sean Philip Cotter at the Herald and Danny McDonald at the Globe have all the “tawdry details” involving the New England Patriots owner’s alleged sexual antics in Florida. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Kevin Cullen and the Herald’s Jessica Heslam have good columns this morning on women who are more than a little familiar with the human-trafficking world that Kraft et gang allegedly viewed as some sort of sexual playground. The Globe’s Joan Vennochi nails it: The only thing famous johns apparently regret is getting caught. She also brings up something we’ve been thinking about too: That old 2009 case involving an unidentified “prominent businessman” caught up in a weird sex-extortion drama. Now who could that have been?
From Oxford, Mass. to Vero Beach, Florida: Kraft’s massage-parlor madame has certainly gotten around   It turns out that the manager of the Vero Beach, Fla. “massage parlor” that Robert Kraft allegedly frequented is none other than Lan Yun Ma, who was arrested earlier this decade on human trafficking charges for running a “health center” in Oxford, Mass. This was before the state recently passed a more aggressive anti-human-trafficking law, so she got off light. The Globe’s John Hilliard and John R. Ellement have more on Ma.  
  Cut it out: Cambridge council passes tree removal moratorium   Despite warnings that city staff will be overwhelmed with requests for waivers, the Cambridge City Council voted Monday to install a one-year moratorium on tree-cutting, Marc Levy reports at Cambridge Day. Residents have been calling for tougher controls on tree removal after reports showed a steep decline in how much of the city is covered by leafy canopies.  
  OCPF: Former Correia chief of staff violated campaign law by selling fundraising tickets for lawmaker   The Office of Campaign and Political Finance says Gen Andrade, who until December served as chief of staff to embattled Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia, violated state campaign finance law by selling tickets to another pol’s fundraiser while on the city payroll, Jo C. Goode reports at the Herald-News. Andrade cooperated with the inquiry into the fundraising event for Rep. Alan Silvia and as a result the OCPF said it would not refer the matter to the attorney general for enforcement.  
  Longtime mayoral supporter among winners in Brockton pot deal quest   Speaking of city hall insiders, city hall insiders are indeed among those who have struck marijuana host community agreements with Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter in the hopes of opening pot-related businesses in the city once a temporary moratorium expires, Marc Larocque reports at the Enterprise, citing records turned over to the paper via the Freedom of Information Act. A longtime political supporter of Carpenter, who gave $1,000 to the mayor’s re-election campaign around the time the deals were being negotiated behind closed doors, is involved with two businesses that won agreements, while a member of the city’s license commission appointed by Carpenter is also among the winners.
Hard Rock garage expansion plan: Future candidate for the ugliest building in Boston?   Is it an Ice Wall? A hardened above-ground bunker? Whatever it is, the Boston Preservation Alliance doesn’t like it, not at all, i.e. a developer’s plan to rebuild the Hard Rock Café garage next to Faneuil Hall Marketplace, reports Universal Hub. In a recent “strongly worded” letter, the alliance writes: “When the most recent renderings were shown to our Board of Directors there was a collective gasp and unanimous shaking of heads. …”   You got to see the rendering at UH to believe it. Someone’s been watching Game of Thrones way too much, we suspect.  
  Chatham wants shark barrier ideas — and fast   Speaking of walls, have they considered one for the Cape? Chatham officials say they hope to find a way to create a physical barrier to keep great white sharks from making their way to Children’s Beach and hope to have it in place by the time summer arrives, Doug Fraser reports at the Cape Cod Times. Everything from floating plastic ribbons and sonar-emitting buoys to curtains of bubbles and netting is on the table as the town looks to protect its youngest swimmers.  
  Back for more: Baker resumes push for housing-production legislation   From SHNS’s Matt Murphy at the Salem News: “Gov. Charlie Baker will make housing production a central theme of a speech he is slated to deliver to business leaders on Tuesday morning as the governor prepares to file new legislation, possibly as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday, to relax zoning controls in cities and towns. The legislation the governor is preparing to file will be substantially similar to a bill he pushed hard for last session.”  
  Oops: School superintendents accidently sends out application for another job to 3,000 parents and teachers   We recently had a similar “reply all” mishap. But nothing like this. From Jeanette DeForge at MassLive: “The superintendent of the Hampden-Wilbraham school district accidentally emailed an application for another job to more than 3,000 parents and staff in the school district.” The application was for a job long since filled by someone else, but …
John Kerry: Disband your climate denial panel, Mr. President   Former U.S. Sen. John Kerry has an op-ed in the Washington Post harshly criticizing President Trump’s move to gather together “experts” on climate change — experts who just so happen to be climate-change deniers. “We know what the outcome will be: President Trump’s council of doubters and deniers will convene to undo a 26-year-old factual consensus that climate change is a national-security threat multiplier,” he writes. Washington Post  
  The Senate chamber renovation: ‘A labor of love’   SHNS Katie Lannan at the Lowell Sun and Ysabelle Kempe at the Globe get a tour of the Senate’s recently renovated chamber, a $22.6 million effort to repair deteriorating walls and ceilings and to blend the historic with the modern. “It has been a labor of love for everyone here,” said Senate President Karen Spilka. “It is almost an obligation to the residents of the Commonwealth to keep the State House in good shape.”  At WBUR, Steve Brown has more on the chamber renovations – and some great photos of the finished product. Looks like they did a fantastic job.