Window Into The State House

Breaking: Company plans $650M clean energy center in Somerset   This just in, via SHNS’s Michael Nortion: “The company that owns the South Coast site of a former coal-burning power plant on Monday outlined plans to transform the 300-acre parcel into a clean energy center featuring 400 megawatts of on-site battery storage and a $250 million converter to serve the offshore wind industry. Commercial Development Company’s Brayton Point LLC announced plans to launch the Anbaric Renewable Energy Center at the Brayton Point Commerce Center in Somerset, where two cooling towers were imploded last month to help the real estate acquisition and development company repurpose the industrial site.”   ICE defends courthouse detentions, citing ‘dangerous aliens’ on the loose   In response to a lawsuit filed by DAs Rachel Rollins and Marian Ryan, ICE is claiming it has a right to detain illegal immigrants at state courthouses, citing “dangerous aliens” that are on the loose in Massachusetts, partly due to a recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling, reports Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine. ‘Dangerous aliens’? You mean, like the foreign national who had rape, robbery and strangulation charges pending against him when he was recently swept up with 141 other undocumented immigrants with drunken driving records in New England? The Herald’s Joe Dwinell has more in a curiously timed ICE-in-action story.
  ‘A resounding victory for Mr. Kraft’: Judge tosses key video evidence in prostitution case   It’s not quite game, set, match point for Kraft, but it’s close. From the Associated Press at WGBH: “Prosecutors cannot use secretly recorded video allegedly showing New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft engaging in massage parlor sex, a judge ruled Monday, striking a serious blow to their case against him and others charged with soliciting prostitutes at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa.” The Globe’s Danny McDonald reports the ruling rests on the judge’s view of the “sneak and peak” warrant used by law enforcement to video-tape the spa encounters. The New York Times flatly states that the video ruling is a “resounding victory for Mr. Kraft.”  
  As MBTA hikes repair estimate to $10B, chamber chief slams slow pace of improvements   The ‘patience, patience, patience’ strategy doesn’t seem to be working. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “The MBTA estimated on Monday that it would cost $10.1 billion to fully modernize its assets, a projection that may influence the debate on Beacon Hill over whether the agency needs additional revenue. The T has long used a figure of $7.3 billion to estimate the amount of money needed to bring the system into a state of good repair.” Meanwhile, SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) reports that Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce president James Rooney has fired off a letter to the T’s board complaining of the delay in some capital spending, expressing concern over “unreliable service” and urging “bolder solutions,” which means … tax increases? That’s what “bolder solutions” usually means in these parts of the republic. We could be wrong. Separately, Gov. Charlie Baker, who has been resisting any broad-based tax increase to pay for transportation improvements, is off this week to Washington D.C. with Mayor Marty Walsh to lobby for increased fed infrastructure funds, as Shira Schoenberg reports at MassLive.  
  Healey joins price-fixing suit against generic drug companies   This suit has traction. From Tori Bedford at WGBH: “Attorney General Maura Healey has joined leaders from 44 other states in suing a group of drug makers and pharmaceutical executives for allegedly fixing prices on generic drugs. In a press release Monday, Healey announced the complaint against 20 drug companies and 15 pharmaceutical executives, accusing them of ‘intentionally’ raising drug prices as much as 1,000 percent.” And Healey has an unlikely local ally in this fight: The Boston Herald, whose editorial this morning blasts “sinister” price fixing by drug firms and urges prosecution to the “fullest extent of the law.” As we said, this suit has traction – both legal and popular traction.  
  Massachusetts firms lose billions in stock market ‘bloodbath’   Just thought you’d like to know what the market thinks of protectionism. From Don Seiffert at the BBJ: “The 20 most valuable publicly traded Massachusetts firms had shed $14.3 billion in market cap on Monday amid a market-wide rout following the imposition of higher Chinese tariffs. Those 20 companies, which have a combined market cap of $780 billion, include some of the state’s best-known brands,” including GE and TJX, among others. File under: ‘Destroying the economy in order to save it.’  
  Joe ‘Straddle the Fence’ Biden storms NH   He says he’s not a socialist, but he’s touting his progressive credentials these days. He’s none other than Dem presidential frontrunner Joe Biden, and yesterday he made his initial foray into New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state. The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter and the Globe’s Jess Bidgood and James Pindellhave the details on Biden’s rocky “straddle the fence” strategy as he tries to attract both moderate and progressive voters. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld writes that Biden’s biggest enemy right now isn’t Donald Trump, but rather dime-dropping progressives out to block Biden’s nomination.   
  Desperately seeking Alexandria: Warren and Sanders vie for AOC endorsement   One more 2020 presidential-race item: The two most high-profile progressive candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, are waging a behind-the-scenes battle for the formal endorsement of socialist U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Holly Otterbein and Alex Thompson report at Politico. Sanders would seem to have the inside track — AOC worked on his 2016 campaign and the two have appeared together several times to tout the Green New Deal — but Warren has been effusive in her praise of the first-term lawmaker. Speaking of Warren, the AP at the Globe reports that she’s vowing to appoint a former public school teacher to head the DOE if she’s elected.  
  Barring state experts from talking to reporters: The Baker administration has it down to a science   The Globe’s David Abel has a piece this morning about how the Baker administration, on big and small stories, whether they’re about barn swallows or pollution topics in general, simply refuses to allow state scientists and wildlife experts, whose salaries are paid for by taxpayers, to speak to reporters. It’s a necessary and welcome shot-across-the-bow story about a hyper-cautious and image-conscious administration.   
  Six months in, state way off on pot sale projections   Zachary Comeau at the Worcester Business Journal uses the six-month anniversary of the first recreational marijuana sales to gauge how the state is doing — and finds the Bay State behind both its own sales projections and in the rollout of shops. With just under $18 million in state taxes collected through April, the state is unlikely to make the Department of Revenue’s forecast of $63 million by the end of the current fiscal year.   
  MTA sues to stop New Bedford charter school compromise   Not so fast. The Massachusetts Teachers Association has joined with 10 New Bedford taxpayers to file a lawsuit seeking to block the expansion of the Alma del Mar charter school in the city, saying the compromise plan violates the state’s constitution, Michael Jonas reports in CommonWealth Magazine. The school had hoped to add as many as 1,100 new seats, but under a compromise with state education officials agreed to add 450 more students and to serve as one of several neighborhood schools.   
  Behind the president’s Wampanoag tweet: ‘A sprawling network of Trump-related interests’   In a piece headlined ‘A riddle in New England,’ Marc Fisher at the Washington Post reports there was more, much more, to President Trump’s odd tweet last week opposing the Wampanoag land bill supported by Massachusetts Democrats, besides the lobbyist ties to the Twin Rivers casino company in Rhode Island. The National Enquirer gets a mention (of course).  
  Meanwhile, Dems press Baker on driver’s licenses for refugees   On another immigration front, via Christian M. Wade at the Eagle-Tribune: “Members of Congress are urging Gov. Charlie Baker to provide relief for immigrants who could lose driving privileges as a court fight over their legal status plays out. … Members of the state’s all-Democrat congressional delegation wrote to Baker asking him to direct the Registry of Motor Vehicles to grant one-year license extensions and other accommodations to help immigrants in those programs as they await a final ruling.”   
  Assumption College seeks name change to … Assumption University   This comes as Assumption College, like other small schools, has taken drastic steps to shore up its finances amid falling enrollment. From Catherine Carlock at the BBJ: “Assumption College, a private Catholic institution in Worcester, has applied to change its name to ‘Assumption University.’ College administrators said the name change, if approved by state higher education officials, seeks to emphasize Assumption’s optimism about the future as well as a desire to display its diverse and growing program offerings.” Bottom line: It’s effectively a branding move to attract more full-paying students.    
  Headline of the day: ‘Trump is proud to report that the Red Sox swept a sub-.500 team thanks to him’   The Washington Post’s Philip Bump has fun with the president’s tweet yesterday on how he deserves credit for the Sox’s recent run since visiting the White House: “There’s a particular subset of Donald Trump tweets in which he tries to take credit for things for which he obviously deserves no credit. This is different than that genre of tweets in which Trump claims, retroactively, to have been right about something, a prolific genre of its own.” Btw: Callie Crossley at WGBH is still chewing on that Red Sox visit to the White House – and the recent visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by Tiger Woods.  
  Globe’s Shirley Leung returns to business column after stint heading editorial pages   Media critic Dan Kennedy reports that Shirley Leung, the interim editorial page editor at the Globe, has returned to her old position as a business columnist. And, sure enough, she’s already fired off a good column on the Northern Avenue bridge. She clearly missed her column writing, as she confirms to Kennedy, who reports the Globe is now searching for a new editorial page editor.