Window Into The State House

The Orange Line shutdown: Too many meetings to blame?   Another day, another T mini-debacle, yesterday’s version entailing the morning shutdown of the Orange Line due to a “construction accident that prevented weekend work on the Orange Line from wrapping up” before the morning commute, as CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl and SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) report. MBTA general manager Steve Poftak is apologizing profusely.  But what we found interesting are Poftak’s remarks about how too many T board meetings may be distracting him and others away from more important matters. “I’ve allowed a dynamic to develop where, as a management team, we are focused on these meetings and it comes, at least for us, at the expense of a focus on operational performance and contact with our workforce.” It’s somewhat alarming – and yet very refreshing – to hear someone mutter something like this in public life. South Boston man accused of threatening to kill councilor Flaherty   From Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin: “Boston Police report arresting a South Boston man they say walked into at-large City Councilor Michael Flaherty’s campaign office on East Broadway around 10:40 a.m. and made “threats towards an elected official and his staff” – while on the lam from a car chase earlier in the morning.” Meanwhile, the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports Flaherty was first threatened on Saturday, leading to a police alert.
  Baker’s vaping ban upheld – with constitutional conditions   From Steph Solis at MassLive: “A Suffolk Superior Court judge upheld the state’s (vaping products) ban but called it in part unconstitutional, ordering state officials to get public input and take other steps to properly impose the prohibition. Now the ball is in the Baker administration’s court, and state officials are weighing their options.” They seem confident the ban can be easily fixed to pass legal muster.   
  Meanwhile, poll shows two-thirds back Baker on vaping ban   They’ve got his back. As his vaping ban withstands court challenges, Gov. Baker also appears to have the support of most Bay State residents, according to a newly released WBUR/MassINC poll, Zeninjor Enwemeka reports. Overall, 66 percent of Massachusetts voters support the ban and just 25 percent oppose it, though there is a stark difference in how voters of various age groups feel about the move.   
  DeLeo on Baker’s health-care plan: ‘It’s a good start’   House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka appear to like aspects of Gov. Charlie Baker’s recently unveiled health-care plan dealing with hospital and pharmaceutical pricing. But it’s still a long way from passage, they warn. Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine has more. Meanwhile, SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) reports Baker’s package also authorizes, via executive order, an investigation/study into health “insurance market reforms.  
      Legislation would ban the B-word that rhymes with itch   Speaking of slurs, the Herald’s Mary Markos reports on legislation by state Rep. Daniel Hunt that would criminalize the use of the word “bitch” aimed at women in a derogatory way. The bill is being called “patently unconstitutional” by civil-rights attorney Harvey Silverglate. And there he goes again. Dragging in the constitution!  
  Yet another proposed ban: Wearing masks at political protests   Notice how the ideological roles are reversed in this ban proposal. The Globe’s Milton Valencia and the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter report on yesterday’s council hearing on a proposed ban on those wearing masks at protests, such as the ski-masks worn by alleged lefty toughies at the recent Straight Pride parade in Boston. We liked this line from one resident: “This is not Hong Kong — this is Boston.”  
  Warren’s education-plan price tag: $450 billion   She certainly thinks big. From Benjamin Kail at MassLive: “Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren released an education plan Monday that would invest hundreds of billions of dollars into public schools, a move the Democratic presidential candidate says would empower a diversified and better-paid pipeline of educators while leveling the playing field for students from all backgrounds.”   
  How not to help journalism?   As state lawmakers in Massachusetts mull how to help local journalism amid dramatic newsroom cutbacks, a MassterList reader sent us this cautionary tale from the Hollywood Reporter about a new California law that puts a cap on the number of articles freelancers can write for publications. It’s apparently “freaking out” a lot of freelancers. Meanwhile, from the NYTon another journalism proposal: “Local News Is Dying. New York May Try to Pass a Law to Save It.”    
  About the timing of that Airbnb donation to Boston Latin …   File under: ‘No good deed goes unpunished,’ especially in Boston. From the Herald’s Erin Tiernan and Sean Phillip Cotter: “Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk dodged questions after making a $1 million donation to Boston Latin Academy on Monday at a time when his industry is facing strict regulations in the city that could affect his company’s bottom line.”  
  Settlement talks underway in lawsuit over banned day-care workers   From the Globe’s Kay Lazar: “State and civil rights lawyers are discussing a potential settlement in a class-action lawsuit that challenges the state’s unusual new lifetime ban on child-care workers who have juvenile records.” A judge giving the two sides a few months to work out a deal, Lazar writes.