Window Into The State House

DeLeo to seek another term as speaker, assorted liars be damned   SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) and Shira Schoenberg at MassLive report that, yes, House Speaker Robert DeLeo says he has every intention of running for speaker again in 2021 – and sounds like he expects to win, again. Unless a majority of members tend to side with people like former state Rep. Jay Kaufman, who tells CommonWealth magazine that DeLeo once threatened to strip him of a committee chairmanship if he didn’t go along with a long-ago tax plan. In a statement, DeLeo says that Kaufman’s claim is “flat-out false” and that he’s “a liar.”  
  Thinking big: Commuter group backs $29B ‘full transformation’ of rail system   CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl reports that a commuter rail advisory group is endorsing the broadest and most expensive option on the table for transforming the T’s rail system: A nearly $29 billion plan for a “full transformation” to an electrified regional rail system offering riders more frequent service during the day. “We need to think bold,” says Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee, a former co-chairman of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee. But here’s the big question for this and other transit plans, via SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Who Will Pay?”  
  Going for it: Lynch pursues chairmanship of committee at center of impeachment   From SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall): “U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch said Monday evening that he would be running for the chairmanship of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, a panel he has sat on for 18 years and one at the center of the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.” The Globe’s Laura Krantz has more on Lynch’s pursuit of the chairmanship, which opened up following the recent death of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore.  
  Local elections: Paying the price for supporting more housing?   As they say, all politics are local – and in many Massachusetts communities that means the politics of housing. The Globe’s Tim Logan reports that housing has become a major issue in area local elections this fall – and elected leaders who have previously pledged to build more housing are suddenly facing challengers or potential successors with different views. We’re tempted to say this a classic suburban issue, but a report at Universal Hub indicates that housing is an issue almost everywhere: “In Allston/Brighton race, Cashman would get tough on local colleges, Breadon would make developers build more affordable housing.”  
  ‘The most competitive contest the city has seen in a decade’   Speaking of local elections, the Globe’s Milton Valencia has a good story this morning on the battle for the four at-large city council seats in Boston – and specifically the fourth seat that’s not expected to be won by an incumbent. And it’s totally up for grabs, thanks to an influx of political newcomers in the race. Meanwhile, at the district level, the Herald’s Jacklyn Cashman writes about the partisan Democrat-versus-Republican clash in District 8 – and what constitutes and doesn’t constitute an endorsement.  
  Healey’s office concedes: Bodyworks bill needs more work   The elephant in the room on this bill is a certain owner of a professional sports team in Boston. But we won’t get into that now. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that Attorney General Maura Healey’s office is conceding that legislation meant to crack down on human trafficking and the sex industry within the bodyworks industry could end up hurting other businesses, so her office will redraft the bill. The rewrite comes after a rather spirited State House hearing yesterday on the legislation, with Reiki, Qigong and even yoga practitioners saying the legislation would drive many legitimate healers out of business, as Schoenberg and the Herald’s Mary Markos report.  
  Federal judge: Time to protect right whales by closing fishing areas off Nantucket   From the Globe’s David Abel: “In a ruling that could create greater protections for North Atlantic right whales, a federal judge ruled Monday that the National Marine Fisheries Service violated the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws when it made the controversial decision last year to reopen long-closed fishing grounds off Nantucket.”  
  Sorting out Warren’s past legal work for big corporations   Other media outlets have done this story, i.e. Elizabeth Warren’s past legal work representing big corporations sometimes at odds with the little guys who she now says she’s fighting for as a candidate, etc. And the New York Times now has its own story on the subject, saying her legal record is a little more complicated than what both Warren and her critics say. Which is probably true. But reading the story, one gets the impression the Times doesn’t have its heart in the story, as if it didn’t want to do it in the first place. You decide. Btw: Scott Brown makes a cameo appearance in the piece.  In other Warren news, Amie Parnes of The Hill looks at Warren’s arm’s length media strategy, which has steered her clear of major sit-down interviews on national TV and which may be tested as she faces pressure to explain how she’ll pay for Medicare for All.   
  Clogged system: Backlog of immigration cases now at 33,000   The latest evidence that our immigration system is broken: Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine reports that the number of immigrants waiting for a court hearing has now hit 33,000 in Boston. “The wait time has climbed to an average of 1,445 days, or almost four years, according to a recent from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC),” writes Betancourt. Shouldn’t fixing this be a bi-partisan top priority, no matter where one stands on the issue of immigration? But we don’t live in bi-partisan times and so it won’t be fixed.  
  Urgent Care centers expanding at fast rate around the state, particularly on the Cape   Sarah Mizes-Tan at WGBH has an interesting story on the growing popularity of “urgent care” centers around the state, serving as alternatives to going to the doctor’s office or emergency rooms for relatively minor medical needs. In the last decade, the number of centers has grown from 18 to 145 in Massachusetts – with the Cape having the highest number of centers per capita.  
  Smith College investigating swastika graffiti on campus   We missed this story from the other day. The Associated Press at is reporting that Smith College and Northampton Police have launched an investigation to find the individual(s) responsible for drawing swastikas on multiple campus buildings.  
  The governor’s runaround   The Globe’s Joan Vennochi is going after Gov. Charlie Baker – and his scheduling staff – for giving the “runaround to people who can’t run,” i.e. disabled people upset with the administration changes to a state board set up to advocate for equal access for people with disabilities. It seems the governor is too busy, busy, busy to meet with them.  
  The Allston I-90 Project: A runaround of a different kind?   Another runaround story. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Members of a task force convened by the Department of Transportation to offer feedback on a major road and rail project in Allston complained Monday that they had not been kept in the loop during the planning process.” Among other things, they say they haven’t been given documents related to the Allston I-90 Multimodal Project.    
  Study: Working-class Asian immigrants susceptible to the allure of casinos   Steph Solis at MassLive reports on a new state-funded study that says lack of counseling services and multilingual entertainment may be driving a higher number of working-class Asian immigrants to nearby casinos as “their sole source of entertainment and relief” after long hours of work and associated work-related stress.